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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Cerebrospinal Fluid. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Malignant Cells

Malignant cells that have broken away from a tumor within the brain or meninges may also be present in spinal fluid. Central nervous system (CNS) involvement is most common with melanoma, breast carcinoma, and lung carcinoma. The image on the right is a Wright-stained smear (1000X) of CSF from a case of metastatic breast carcinoma. The arrow indicates a vacuole present in one of the tumor cells. Dramatic vacuolation is one characteristic of malignant cells in CSF specimens.