Background: Brushing cytology is a well established diagnostic procedure used by gynaecologists, physicians and surgeons to obtain representative samples from lesions. Our aim was to evaluate its reliability in ulcerative and tumour-like conditions arising in the skin of the head and neck.
Methods: Over 28 months, 86 patients with suspected cutaneous malignant lesions underwent a cytological examination with a cytobrush within the otolaryngology department.
Results: Cytological analysis identified 63 out of 64 histologically documented malignant tumours (60 primary basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas and three metastatic adenocarcinomas), and 21 out of 22 benign lesions. There was one false positive and one false negative result.
Conclusions: Brushing cytology of suspected cutaneous malignant lesions is a rapid and reliable diagnostic method which helps the clinician to decide on appropriate planning and treatment. The technique can be performed as an out-patient procedure, and smear preparation can be done in the laboratory, even at a peripheral hospital.