The morphological features of epithelial cells in gastric biopsy touch smears from 296 cases (248 benign, 48 malignant) were retrospectively reviewed. By subjective criteria no single purely morphological characteristic could be identified that was consistently capable of separating benign from malignant specimens. The value of cell distribution patterns in diagnosis was therefore objectively analysed in the 231 adequate specimens (190 benign, 41 malignant). A score of over 20% for single epithelial cells was found to have a sensitivity of 95.1% and specificity of 99.5% in the diagnosis of carcinoma. Quantitative analysis of cell distribution pattern is a simple test, which does not require special equipment, yet can be helpful in the interpretation of gastric cytology.
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