Chapter 2. Cytopathology

  1. Mary Hannon-Fletcher Lecturer1 and
  2. Perry Maxwell Principal Clinical Scientist2
  1. Mary Hannon-Fletcher Lecturer

Published Online: 11 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470745069.ch2

Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology

Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology

How to Cite

Hannon-Fletcher, M. (2009) Cytopathology, in Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology (eds M. Hannon-Fletcher and P. Maxwell), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470745069.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 1

    The University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK

  2. 2

    Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology, Belfast, UK

Author Information

  1. The University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 APR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470515976

Online ISBN: 9780470745069



  • cytopathology and sound understanding of basic cell biology, biochemistry, physiology and anatomy;
  • cytopathology and pioneering work by Dr George N. Papanicolaou;
  • Papanicolaou and understanding cytological changes associated with cancer and cytology (or cytopathology) as an accepted laboratory discipline;
  • Papnicolaou (Pap) stain - most common stain used in cytopathology;
  • Haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) - The H&E stain on both wet- and dry-fixed specimens for histology;
  • gynaecological cytopathology;
  • National Health Service Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP);
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV);
  • liquid-based cytology (LBC) - improving cervical smear sensitivity and specificity;
  • cervical screening programmes - incidence of cervical cancer death reduction


Cytopathology, a branch of diagnostic pathology provides an alternative to histopathological examination and has several advantages. Specimen collection is relatively simple and quick, is much less invasive (does not require surgery) and processing is much faster that of the paraffin wax embedding method employed in routine histopathology. This chapter introduces the reader to the techniques employed in the Cytopathology laboratory from specimen collection and preparation to diagnosis. The fundamentals of cytomorphology and cytodiagnosis are described in brief. The history of the cervical screening programme is covered, from its introduction, through the limitations of specimen collection, the Papnicolaou (Pap) smear, via the pivotal role played by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the progression to cervical cancer, to the introduction of Liquid Based Cytology (LBC) and the new HPV vaccine reaching market.