Atypical squamous and glandular cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS and AGUS) of the uterine cervix

Anticancer Res. 2000 Sep-Oct;20(5C):3701-7.


ASCUS (Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance) and AGUS (Atypical Glandular Cells of Undetermined Significance), or AGCUS, are two acronyms introduced in 1988 by The Bethesda System (TBS) for reporting borderline cytological changes in cervical cytology. ASCUS and AGUS categories should be subclassified. Five ASCUS subgroups were proposed: 1) ASCUS due to processing defects, 2) with "mature" cytoplasm, 3) in post-menopausal women (a--in the setting of atrophy and b--with estrogen stimulation), 4) atypical metaplasia, and 5) ASCUS with keratinized cytoplasm. AGUS subgroups may be subcategorized in endometrial or endocervical on the basis of origin. Endocervical AGUS should be further qualified, but the analysis of atypical glandular cells may be really difficult and the conclusive diagnosis is frequently "AGUS not otherwise specified". The subclassification of ASCUS and AGUS is useful for an appropriate clinical management, but pertinent patient information (such as age, date of last menstrual period, mechanical therapies, tamoxifen therapy, and others) is needed to avoid an overdiagnosis and consequently an overtreatment. In fact various subgroups require different clinical management. Therefore, an effective communication between cytopathologists and referring physicians is essential in the analysis of squamous and glandular atypias.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Cervix Uteri / pathology*
  • Endometrium / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metaplasia
  • Postmenopause
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vagina / pathology
  • Vaginal Smears