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Normal cells / non-neoplastic findings

Squamous cells

Reviewer: Farnaz Hasteh, M.D., UCSD Medical Center (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 6 March 2011, last major update March 2011
Copyright: (c) 2006-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Either superficial, intermediate, parabasal or basal cells
● Intermediate cells are used as a reference for assessing the presence of other cells

Clinical features

● Basal cells are rare in Pap tests, except in severe atrophy
● Parabasal cells are dominant in atrophic smears, and are associated with Tamoxifen
● Glycogenated parabasal cells are seen in postpartum and lactational states
● Intermediate cells are associated with progesterone effect and pregnancy
● Glycogenated intermediate cells or navicular cells may be seen late in the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy
● Superficial cells: called squames if keratinized and anucleated; the most differentiated cells in a non-keratinizing squamous mucosa; are associated with estrogen effect and midcycle peaks; may be present after menopause due to obesity, cirrhosis, inflammation, radiation, chemotherapy, digitalis or other medications

Cytology description

● Basal cells are undifferentiated small cells
● Parabasal cells have squamous differentiation with a moderate amount of cytoplasm
● Intermediate cells are approximately the size of parabasal or superficial cells; their nuclei are the size of an erythrocyte with fine chromatin
● Superficial cells are polygonal, transparent, eosinophilic, flat/thin; nucleus is pyknotic, round/oval; are like intermediate cells, but with pyknotic and smaller nuclei

Cytology images

Normal squamous cells

Superficial squamous cells

End of Cervix-cytology > Normal cells / non-neoplastic findings > Squamous cells

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