A mucolytic agent, methyl cysteine HC1 (Cytoclair), has been used to obtain a centrifuged cell deposit for the detection of malignant cells in sputum. In 178 sputum samples from 52 patients with primary lung cancer there was a slightly higher rate of detection with the mucolytic method than with the routine method: 54 positives from 27 patients compared with 48 positives from 24 patients. Morphological studies using the mucolytic agent indicated that a millipore filter with fixation of cells in suspension produces a satisfactory cell preparation and is valuable in certain problem cases.
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