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A retrospective study is reported of all Franzen fine-needle aspiration cytology undertaken at Southmead Hospital between January 1978 and December 1981. A total of 1043 aspirates were examined from 753 patients. The diagnosis of carcinoma of the prostate was missed in 2 patients. Twenty-one patients with cytologically-proven carcinoma in histologically-benign prostates were detected, and the role of the Franzen needle in the diagnosis of early prostatic cancer is discussed. Of the 218 patients proceeding to prostatectomy, there were 91 patients with carcinoma and in 65 (72%) the cytological and histological grading was identical. A significant disparity occurred in 8 cases and the reasons are discussed.