New England Journal of Medicine

Sputum for Cytologic Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

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To the Editor: In a letter in the October 8 issue, Melamed and his colleagues reported that cytologic specimens obtained by pooling sputum produced by spontaneous coughing on the three mornings after aerosol induction contained identifiable cancer cells more frequently than did specimens obtained during induction itself. These authors may have given the erroneous impression that the same is true of specimens from spontaneous coughing (pooled over three days) produced independently of aerosol induction. Our experience from a cooperative study that included the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the Mayo Foundation may be relevant to the interpretation of the. . . © 1982, Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.