THE DEATH rate from cervical cancer has dropped significantly in the last 40 years, a decrease that has been attributed largely to the widespread use of the "Pap test." Recent criticism of cervical/ vaginal cytology, however, has focused the attention of the medical profession, governmental agencies, and legislative bodies on the need for strengthening quality assurance measures in cytopathology. One critical aspect of quality assurance in cervical/vaginal cytology is communication of the cytopathologic findings to the referring physician in unambiguous diagnostic terms that have clinical relevance. Terminology currently used is varied and in some instances ambiguous, resulting in confusion about the clinical implications of the report.
As a result of this ambiguous terminology, the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Cancer Institute (NCI), convened a workshop of expert consultants, distinguished cytopathologists, and representatives from national medical and other organizations (See "List of Workshop Participants") to review existing terminology and