Characteristic findings of cervical Papanicolaou tests from transgender patients on androgen therapy: Challenges in detecting dysplasia

B. D. Adkins, A. B. Barlow, A. Jack, S. J. Schultenover, M. M. Desouki, A. C. Coogan, V. L. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The characteristic features of Papanicolaou (Pap) tests collected from female-to-male (FTM) transgender patients on androgen therapy have not been well defined in the literature. FTM transgender patients require cervical cancer screening with the same recommended frequency as cis-gender females. Dysplasia remains challenging to differentiate from atrophy. Without pertinent history, the atrophic findings in younger transgender patients can be misinterpreted as high-grade dysplasia. Methods: A review of all cervical Pap tests of transgender patients receiving androgen therapy (2010-2017) was performed. Bethesda diagnosis, cytomorphological features, HPV testing and cervical biopsy results were reviewed. Results: Eleven transgender patients receiving androgen therapy were identified with 23 cervical Pap tests, 11 HPV tests and five cervical biopsies performed. A review of the Pap tests demonstrated: 57% negative for intraepithelial lesion; 13% unsatisfactory; 13% atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance; 13% atypical squamous cells – cannot exclude high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion; and 4% high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion. The rates of abnormal tests were higher than our age-matched cis-gender atrophic cohort rates of unsatisfactory (0.5%), atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (7%), atypical squamous cells—cannot exclude high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (0%) and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (0.5%). The cytological findings from liquid-based preparations included dispersed and clustered parabasal-type cells, scattered degenerated cells, smooth evenly dispersed chromatin, and occasional mild nuclear enlargement and irregularity. Dysplastic cells had larger nuclei, hyperchromatic clumped chromatin, and more irregular nuclear contours. Conclusions: The evaluation of dysplasia can be challenging on Pap tests from transgender patients on androgen therapy. The cohort evaluated had higher rates of unsatisfactory and abnormal Pap tests. Pathologists should be familiar with the distinctive cytomorphological changes in the Pap tests from patients on androgen therapy to evaluate them appropriately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalCytopathology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cervical cancer
  • HPV
  • Pap
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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