The cytological features of testicular germ cell tumours were established in smears from 15 freshly resected tumours. These features were applied to the fine needle aspiration cytology diagnosis of metastases in 27 patients referred for chemotherapy. There were 16 positive reports in 32 aspirates of which 13 were taken before chemotherapy and three in patients with residual or new masses after chemotherapy. Teratomas and typical seminomas showed certain characteristic morphological features in cytological preparations which when present in fine needle aspiration cytology material enabled tumour types to be diagnosed. Spermatocytic and anaplastic seminoma were not represented in this series. It is unlikely that these could be distinguished from malignant teratoma undifferentiated (MTU) in the fine needle aspiration cytology material. Metastases from carcinomatous areas in MTU and malignant teratoma intermediate (MTI) may not be distinguishable in fine needle aspiration cytology material from metastatic adenocarcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma from a different primary site. Positive cytological findings are of value to the oncologist in the management of patients with metastases from testicular germ cell tumours; negative cytology does not exclude the presence of viable tumour. The sampling of small foci of viable tumour in large necrotic masses persisting after chemotherapy is a problem for radiologists, cytologists, and histopathologists. This paper does not advocate the use of fine needle aspiration cytology for the diagnosis of primary testicular tumour.
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