The smear taking practices of departments of genitourinary medicine were investigated by telephone inquiry. Departments seem to be broadly and equally divided into those where the smear is taken before the cervix is wiped or endocervical specimens are taken for microbiology, and those where the smear is taken afterwards. In the unit at Guy's Hospital we compared cervical smears taken in both of these sequences and concluded that, to diagnose more cases of premalignant cervical disease, smears should be taken before any other cervical samples.
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