Atypical squamous cells and low squamous intraepithelial lesions in postmenopausal women: Implications for management

Roberto Piccoli, Vincenzo D. Mandato, Giada Lavitola, Giuseppe Acunzo, Giuseppe Bifulco, Giovanni A. Tommaselli, Wanda Attianese, Carmine Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To determine whether the use of local Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) affects the adequacy of colposcopic examination; to distinguish abnormal cervical smears secondary to hypoestrogenism from abnormal cervical smears due to true preneoplastic changes; and to suggest an effective management of atypical squamous cells of undeterminated significance (ASCUS) and low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (L-SIL) in menopausal women. Study design: Two-hundred fifty-four postmenopausal women with abnormal pap smears (L-SIL or ASCUS) underwent colposcopy and HPV DNA testing. All patients with positive colposcopy underwent punch biopsy, and all patients with positive histological findings underwent surgical treatment. Patients with negative colposcopy, both satisfactory [visible Squamo-Columnar Junction (SCJ)] and unsatisfactory, were treated with local estrogenic replacement therapy (ERT) for 3 months, and repeated colposcopy and pap smears. Patients with negative colposcopy and negative pap smears after ERT were included in a 6 months cytological and colposcopic follow-up. Patients with positive colposcopy underwent punch biopsy, if colposcopy was negative and cytology was positive, patients underwent endocervical curettage. Results: One-hundred ninety-five had a diagnosis of ASCUS and 59 a diagnosis of L-SIL. At the first colposcopy, 39 patients showed a lesion and had an appropriate treatment. One-hundred eighty-eight in the ASCUS group and 27 in the L-SIL group had a negative colposcopy and were treated with local ERT. At first colposcopic examination, 37 of the 215 negative colposcopies resulted satisfactory and 178 of the 215 resulted unsatisfactory. After local ERT, 130 of the 178 patients had a satisfactory follow-up colposcopy. After ERT, 25 patients of 215 with initial abnormal CVS and negative colposcopy, required appropriate treatment. After ERT, 190 patients of 215 showed negative colposcopy and at cytologic follow-up showed 23 ASCUS and 167 normal CVS. Conclusions: A correct diagnosis and an efficient treatment seem to be obtained with a short-time ERT followed by a short-time cytological and colposcopic follow-up. With a single course of local ERT it may be possible to distinguish between benign CVS mimicking atrophy and true preneoplastic changes. Estrogen therapy will often cause enough ectropion of the endocervical cells so that the entire SCJ can be visualized. Moreover, it may reduce the number of endocervical curettage or loop excision or cone procedure for women with inadequate colposcopic examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • ERT
  • LSIL
  • Menopause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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