Cytopathology is a branch of pathology that studies and diagnoses diseases on the cellular level. Cytopathology is generally used on samples of free cells or tissue fragments. In this diagnostic technique, that examines cells from various body sites to determine the cause or the nature of disease. It is an important diagnostic test in cancer screening. The importance of using cytology over histopathology is that it is minimally invasive and more economical.

We have aspiration cytology and exfoliative cytology.

Aspiration cytology is a tool to study lumps by the minimally invasive process of FNAC ( fine needle aspiration cytology) or FNAB ( fine needle aspiration biopsy). It helps in categorizing the lump as reactive, inflammatory, benign or malignant. Breast lumps, prostate lumps, Abdominal lumps, thyroid masses, salivary gland masses, lumps in peripheries and enlarged lymph nodes are routinely aspirated with reliable and accurate results in 97 % of cases. Only 3% of cases are marked inconclusive and require further investigations. This aids in establishing clear cut treatment guidelines and avoids invasive biopsies for reactive and inflammatory lesions. Advantages are minimally invasive, very economical and fast turnaround time.

Exfoliative cytopathology is of body fluids such as ascitic fluid, pleural fluid, saliva and urine.

The type of cells shed in those fluids in reactive, inflammatory and malignancy condition are different. The study of the cells that are shed in the fluid can give indication regarding the disease process. This is especially true in cases of diagnosis of tuberculosis and malignancy.

PAP Smear is another example of exfoliative cytopathology. It is actively used in cervical cancer screening program for women. The sensitivity and specificity of PAP smears in diagnosing cervical cancer is high. At TFPL we do PAP smears by Liquid based cytology. The advantage of PAP -LBC is that if required same sample can be used for HPV determination.

Our director, Dr Vibha Tomar, is an experienced cytopathologist. A member of IAC, she has over 25 years experience in reporting cytology smears. In good hands cytopathology is very effective in diagnosis of lumps and screening for cancer.