Clinical relevance of benign endometrial cells in postmenopausal women

Raheela Ashfaq, Suash Sharma, Tara Dulley, M. Hossein Saboorian, Momin T. Siddiqui, Claudia Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Our objective was to determine if the finding of benign endometrial cells on a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear of a postmenopausal woman is associated with endometrial/uterine pathology, independent of symptomatology and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) status. The medical records of 146 postmenopausal patients who had a Pap smear showing normal-appearing endometrial cells between January 9, 1997 and January 12, 2000 were reviewed. Uterine pathology for each patient was determined by reviewing the results of endometrial sampling (endometrial biopsy or dilatation and curettage), hysterectomy, or pelvic sonogram, which were performed within 24 mo of the cytologic smear. The results were then correlated with clinical symptomatology and HRT status of each patient at the time the cytologic smear was obtained. Of the 146 Pap smears coded with "endometrial cells in a postmenopausal woman," 50 were excluded due to prior hysterectomy, perimenopausal status, and absence of further follow-up. Of the remaining 96 women, 27 (28%) had benign pathologic findings including polyps, leiomyomata, and simple hyperplasia without atypia, whereas 11 (12%) had significant pathologic findings including hyperplasia with atypia, adenocarcinoma, mixed Mullerian tumor, and leiomyosarcoma. Of the 11 patients with significant pathology, only one patient did not have abnormal vaginal bleeding but instead had a 30-wk-size irregular uterus on examination, and only 2 patients received hormone replacement therapy. In conclusion, Reporting endometrial cells on Pap smears in postmenopausal women did not lead to the diagnosis of any cases of significant pathology that would have gone unsuspected clinically. Moreover, HRT status did not affect the incidence of normal endometrial cells on Pap smears in postmenopausal women, nor did it aid in distinguishing which postmenopausal women had endometrial/uterine pathology. This calls into question the usefulness of the current Bethesda guideline to report "benign endometrial cells in a postmenopausal woman." Diagn. Cytophatol. 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-238
Number of pages4
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Benign endometrial cells
  • Bethesda system
  • Endometrial carcinoma
  • Postmenopausal women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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