Cytomorphology of cervicovaginal melanoma: ThinPrep versus conventional Papanicolaou tests

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BACKGROUND: Primary cervicovaginal melanoma is a rare malignancy associated with a high risk of recurrence. Prior studies discussing the cytomorphology of cervicovaginal melanoma have been based primarily on review of conventional Papanicolaou (Pap) smears. The aim of this study was to evaluate cervicovaginal melanomas identified in liquid-based Pap tests, in comparison with features seen on conventional Pap smear preparation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cases of cervicovaginal melanoma identified on Pap tests with concurrent or subsequent histopathologic confirmation were collected from the Baystate Medical Center cytopathology files and personal archives of the authors over a total period of 34 years. All cytopathology (n = 6) and the available histology slides (n = 5) were reviewed. Cases were analyzed regarding clinical, histopathologic and cytomorphological findings. RESULTS: A total of six cases with invasive cervicovaginal melanoma diagnosed on Pap tests were identified. Most patients were postmenopausal with contact bleeding, correlating with surface ulceration (identified in biopsy/excision material in 5/5 cases). Most cases had deeply invasive tumors (5/5: modified Breslow's thickness > 5 mm and Chung's level of invasion IV/V). Pap tests included four ThinPrep and two conventional smears. Overall, ThinPrep Pap tests exhibited a higher ratio of tumor cells to background squamous cells. While all Pap tests were bloodstained, tumor diathesis was prominent only within conventional smears. Melanoma cells were present both as clusters and scattered single cells in each Pap test type. Both the preparations contained epithelioid tumor cells, whereas spindled tumor cells were seen in only two ThinPrep cases. Prominent nucleoli and binucleation of tumor cells were seen in both the preparations. Melanin pigment was identified in only ThinPrep (3/4) cases and nuclear pseudo-inclusions in one conventional Pap smear. Cell blocks were made in three ThinPrep cases and immunocytochemistry (S-100, HMB45, Melan-A) performed on additional vial material (one ThinPrep slide and one cell block) was immunoreactive in melanoma cells. CONCLUSION: Primary cervicovaginal melanoma, a rare malignancy seen predominantly in postmenopausal women, may be successfully diagnosed in either ThinPrep Pap tests or conventional Pap smears. While ThinPrep Pap tests did not demonstrate morphological advantage over conventional smears, liquid-based cytology specimens did provide additional material for cellblock preparation and immunocytochemical evaluation in a subset of cases.

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