Login to MyKarger

New to MyKarger? Click here to sign up.



Login with Facebook

Forgot your password?

Authors, Editors, Reviewers

For Manuscript Submission, Check or Review Login please go to Submission Websites List.

Submission Websites List

Institutional Login
(Shibboleth or Open Athens)

For the academic login, please select your country in the dropdown list. You will be redirected to verify your credentials.

Review

Editor's Choice - Free Access

Changing Trends and Practices in Cytopathology

Gonzalez M.F. · Akhtar I. · Manucha V.

Author affiliations

Department of Pathology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA

Corresponding Author

Correspondence to: Dr. Varsha Manucha

Department of Pathology, University of Mississippi Medical Center

2500 North State Street

Jackson, MS 39216 (USA)

E-Mail vmanucha@umc.edu

Related Articles for ""

Acta Cytologica 2017;61:91-95

Abstract

Objective: To explore the current and anticipated changes in the practice of cytopathology. Study Design: The present review is based on a review of recent literature and an evaluation of the authors' personal experiences. Results and Conclusion: In recent years the practice of cytopathology, nationwide and in our institute, has witnessed a major change affecting gynecologic and nongynecologic cytology. There has been a decline in the number of Papanicolaou tests which has affected the utilization of cytotechnologists and provoked a reorganization of their work flow. The “need to do more with less” in the era of targeted therapy/personalized medicine has resulted in an increasing preference for needle core biopsy when performing a rapid on-site evaluation. We feel that this change is unavoidable. It is pertinent that cytopathologists as a group recognize this change and prepare themselves and the trainees not only to become adapt but also to use this as an opportunity to discover the yet unexplored world of cytology.

© 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel


Introduction

In recent years the practice of cytology has changed in an attempt to adapt to revised American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines and the onset of the era of personalized medicine. The ACOG guidelines [1] implemented in 2009 brought about a decreased number of Papanicolaou (Pap) tests, resulting in decreased cervical cytology screening and thereby reducing the number of cytotechnologist positions and prompting the closure of many cytotechnology programs nationwide. On the other hand, the dawn of the era of personalized medicine for targeted therapy has increased the pressure on cytopathologists to do more with less. The latter has caused a significant shift from rapid on-site evaluations (ROSE) performed on fine-needle aspiration (FNA) to touch imprint (TI) cytology of needle core biopsies (NCB). The trend towards a subspecialty histopathology sign out has also led to diversion of cytological specimens into the corresponding or appropriate subspecialty histopathology teams in favor of a better cyto-histocorrelation, an accurate diagnosis, and better patient care [2].

In the current review, we explore the changing trends and the anticipated challenges in the practice of cytology.

Discussion

Gynecologic Cytology

Routine screening of cervical cytology with a Pap smear, originating in the 1940s, is recognized as the standard of gynecologic care. Over the last 30 years, routine cervical cytology screening has contributed to a 50% reduction in the incidence of cervical cancer in the USA [1]. The mortality from cervical cancer has also decreased from 5.55 per 100,000 women in 1975 to 2.38 per 100,000 women in 2008 [1]. The development of cervical cancer is strongly associated with previous infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), and cervical cancer represents 53.4% of the total number of HPV-associated cancers in women [3]. HPV testing for high-risk HPV genotypes, so far used to triage equivocal Pap test diagnoses, became an integral part of the cervical cancer screening program recently. The current guidelines for cervical carcinoma screening were created as joint recommendations of the American Cancer Society, the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology in 2012 and they were accepted and promoted by the ACOG later that year [1,4,5]. Major highlights of the guidelines include: initiation of cervical carcinoma screening at 21 years of age, with cervical cytology testing exclusively until age 30 years; cotesting with cytology and HPV testing every 5 years for women aged 30-65 years; and discontinuation of screening in women over the age of 65 years without a history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or higher and adequate negative prior screening results. In 2014, the FDA approved the cobas® HPV test as the first of its kind for use in place of cytology for primary screening for cervical cancer by detection of high-risk HPV genotypes in women aged 25 years or older [6]. The interim guidelines state that, because of its equivalent or superior effectiveness, primary high-risk HPV screening can be utilized as an alternative to cytology [7,8]. As an effect of the guidelines, in the last 4 years our institution has witnessed a decline in cervical Pap tests and an increase in HPV testing (Fig. 1). In order to manage the annual load of up to 60,000 Paps, cytotechnologists were spending most of their time screening Paps. The approximately 30% decline in Pap smears in the last 5 years prompted the department to reorganize the service contribution by the cytotechnologists. A program was initiated to train cytotechnologists to perform ROSE and screen FNA/NCB specimens. With the evolution of molecular testing in surgical pathology and cytopathology, cytotechnologists were utilized to assist pathologists in screening and evaluating ROSE and triaging specimens for molecular testing. Cost cutting and hospital budget containment also required cytotechnologists to contribute to administrative duties. It is possible to further expand the role of cytotechnologists to enhance the pathologist's efficiency in other ways as well, including screening for and locating microorganisms on special stains, grossing small biopsies, evaluating the adequacy of renal biopsies, enumerating tumor purity for Sanger sequencing, capturing and annotating digital images, and selecting slides for molecular tests [9]. Cytotechnologists as “pathologist extenders” add value in prescreening cytology and other specimens for the identification of abnormalities. The College of American Pathology (CAP) Pap proficiency program and nongynecologic interlaboratory comparison programs have consistently demonstrated that pathologists are less skilled than cytotechnologists at detecting abnormalities on Pap tests and that cytotechnologists perform as well as pathologists in identifying most lesions [9]. Besides, cytotechnologists performing ROSE help to offset the reduced reimbursement for pathologists performing adequacy assessments.

Fig. 1

Numbers of Papanicolaou (Pap) and human papilloma virus (HPV) tests per year, over the last 6 years, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

/WebMaterial/ShowPic/833339

Nongynecologic Cytology

During the last decade, pathologists have witnessed an accelerated growth in the field of molecular pathology. With new technologies and better resolution of computer tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging, the number of diagnostic procedures has increased and the demand for ancillary testing on smaller specimens is greater than before. Cytology specimens have proven to be an excellent source for molecular testing, yielding the maximum information with use of a minimally invasive technique [10]. Cytopathologists are an important link of personalized medicine with minimally invasive techniques and they are well versed in the art of ROSE on FNA smears for adequacy of diagnosis and triaging of the tissue for ancillary studies. More recently NCB has become the preferred method for obtaining tissue, especially for molecular testing, resulting in the need for cytologists to become familiar with the nuances of performing ROSE on TI.

According to the 2015 CAP nongynecologic survey, more than half of the laboratories that participated in the survey performed ROSE of TI of NCB. On-site assessment of the TI was performed by a pathologist in 82% of the laboratories surveyed [11]. In our own institute, over the last few years the number of ROSE for FNA has doubled and the number of ROSE for TI has increased by 50% (Fig. 2). Most NCB are obtained under image guidance, including CT (CT-NCB), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS-NCB), and endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS-NCB). At our institution, the most common body sites for NCB are the lungs, abdomino-pelvic masses, soft tissue, and bone, including the spine. NCB is the favored method for providing tissue to pathologists for diagnosis as it ensures adequacy of the tissue for molecular testing if indicated. In order to accommodate their requests, we let the radiologist choose the tissue type (FNA/NCB) based on the procedure that is best for the patient and their diagnostic/therapeutic needs. If the TI on the first core shows lesional cells, other cores are directly submitted in formalin or used for flow cytometry or microbiology as the need may be. Multiple paraffin blocks are made if multiple cores are available, with each block containing one core to ensure adequacy of the tissue. As per the 2015 CAP NGC education survey, the majority (50.5%) of laboratories accession the entire specimen as a surgical specimen, followed by 28.4% which accession it as a cytology specimen and some (15.5%) which accession TI as a cytology specimen and NCB as a surgical specimen. At our institute the entire specimen (TI and NCB) is accessioned as a cytology specimen as the cytologist has the advantage of being present during the procedure, reviewing the images, and discussing the case with the radiologist. Besides, a single report incorporates the ROSE findings and the final diagnosis and documents ancillary studies if performed in a more complete manner.

Fig. 2

Numbers of fine-needle aspirations (FNA) and needle core biopsies (NCB) per year, over the last 6 years, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

/WebMaterial/ShowPic/833338

The techniques used to perform TI are not standardized and vary from just touching the NCB on the slide to rolling the NCB on the slide and rarely to a crush/squash preparation. The percentage of cells transferred onto the slides depends on the inherent nature of the tissue (friable tumors vs. benign fibrous lesions) and on the increasing length of the drag. Excessively vigorous TI can deplete the core of cells. The DNA content lost is directly related to each centimeter of imprint, thereby impacting the material available for molecular testing and other ancillary studies [11]. Rekhtman et al. [12] described an imprint of a NCB as touching the CNB to the slide with minimal sliding along the slide surface and recommended the horizontal drag method. Other factors that can affect the quality and quantity of the NCB material include the type and location of the target lesion and the number and type of needle passes [12,13].

The shift to and preference for NCB over FNA is related to the ability of radiologists to provide multiple cores at the same time through the use of a coaxial NCB system and the flexibility for pathologists to triage the tissue adequately for ancillary studies including immunohistochemistry, histochemistry, microbiologic cultures, molecular studies, and flow cytometry [14,15]. Historically, cytology texts and literature and training of cytologists have been based on descriptions of morphologic findings of cellular material retrieved through FNA, even though it has been shown that TI of NCB are comparable to FNA for the purposes of ROSE [16,17]. TI involves artifacts different from FNA [16,18]. Intuitively, the process of acquiring material is different in the two procedures; aspiration is an active process that generally yields a cell-rich preparation without much stroma, compared to NCB which is a relatively passive process and includes cells and stromal elements in the same specimen. The smears made from aspirated tissue are therefore generally composed of widely scattered, smaller cell clusters with more single cells. The TI in contrast contains much larger and more cohesive cell groups, highlighting architectural details [16]. The advantages of FNA and TI over each other are summarized in Tables 1 and 2. It is important to keep in mind that the CPT billing code for both procedures is also different (Table 3).

Table 1

Advantages of touch imprint of needle core biopsy over fine-needle aspiration

/WebMaterial/ShowPic/833342

Table 2

Disadvantages of touch imprint over fine-needle aspiration

/WebMaterial/ShowPic/833341

Table 3

Differences in CPT codes for touch imprint vs. fine-needle aspiration

/WebMaterial/ShowPic/833340

Clearly, there is a learning curve involved in getting familiar with the differences in morphologic features in smears and TI in order to confidently perform a ROSE.

Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Cytopathologists have acknowledged and embraced the change. Cytopathology is a study based on examination of cells and so a trained cytopathologist is the best to do “most” with “less.” In the future, we anticipate that cytopathologists will be even more intimately involved in triaging and choosing tissue for molecular testing besides making the “final diagnosis” on miniscule tissue from different parts of the body.

Disclosure Statement

None of the authors has any conflict of interests, financial or otherwise.


References

  1. Committee on Practice Bulletins - Gynecology: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 131: screening for cervical cancer. Obstet Gynecol 2012;120:1222-1238.
  2. Kamel HMH: Trends and practices in pathology practice. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 2011;11:38-44.
  3. Jemal A, Simard EP, Dorell C, Noone AM, Markowitz LE, Kohler B, Eheman C, Saraiya M, Bandi P, Saslow D, Cronin KA, Watson M, Schiffman M, Henley SJ, Schymura MJ, Anderson RN, Yankey D, Edwards BK: Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2009, featuring the burden and trends in human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers and HPV vaccination coverage levels. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013;105:175-201.
  4. Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson HW, Killackey M, Kulasingam SL, Cain J, Garcia FA, Moriarty AT, Waxman AG, Wilbur DC, Wentzensen N, Downs LS Jr, Spitzer M, Moscicki AB, Franco EL, Stoler MH, Schiffman M, Castle PE, Myers ER: American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology screening guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. CA Cancer J Clin 2012;62:147-172.
  5. Moyer VA: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Screening for cervical cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 2012;156:880-891.
  6. Abraham J, Stenger M: Cobas HPV test for first-line screening for cervical cancer. J Community Support Oncol 2014;12:156-157.
  7. Dinkelspiel H, Kinney W: State of the science: cervical cancer screening in transition. Gynecol Oncol 2014;133:389-393.
  8. Huh WK, Ault KA, Chelmow D, Davey DD, Goulart RA, Garcia FA, Kinney WK, Massad LS, Mayeaux EJ, Saslow D, Schiffman M, Wentzensen N, Lawson HW, Einstein MH: Use of primary high-risk human papillomavirus testing for cervical cancer screening: interim clinical guidance. Obstet Gynecol 2015;125:330-337.
  9. Crothers BA, Kurtycz DFI, Bloom LI: Cytopathology and more: cytopathology at the tipping point. CAP TODAY 2014; may; retrieved from http://www.captodayonline.com/cytopathology-at-the-tipping-point/.
  10. Aisner DL, Sams SB: The role of cytology specimens in molecular testing of solid tumors: techniques, limitations, and opportunities. Diagn Cytopathol 2012;40:511-524.
  11. Padmanabhan V, Barkan G, Nayar R: Cytopathology and more: assessing needle core biopsy adequacy - survey of practices. CAP TODAY 2016; may; retrieved from http://www.captodayonline.com/assessing-needle-core-biopsy-adequacy-survey-practices-516/.
  12. Rekhtman N, Kazi S, Yao J, Dogan S, Yannes A, Lin O, Silk M, Silk T, Durack JC: Depletion of core needle biopsy cellularity and DNA content as a result of vigorous touch preparations. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2015;139:907-912.
  13. Travis WD, Rekhtman N: Pathological diagnosis and classification of lung cancer in small biopsies and cytology: strategic management of tissue for molecular testing. Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2011;32:22-31.
  14. Dogan S, Becker J, Rekhtman N, Tang L, Nafa K, Ladanyi M, Kilmstra DS: Use of touch imprint cytology as a simple method to enrich tumor cells for molecular analysis. Cancer Cytopathol 2013;121:354-360.
  15. Mangia A, Chiriatti A, Chiarappa P, Incalza M, Antonaci G, Pilato B, Simone G, Tommasi S, Paradiso A: Touch imprint cytology in tumor tissue banks for the confirmation of neoplastic cellularity and for DNA extraction. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2008;132:974-978.
  16. Hahn PF, Eisenberg PJ, Pitman MB, Gazelle GS, Mueller PR: Cytopathologic touch preparations (imprints) from core needle biopsies: accuracy compared with that of fine-needle aspirates. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1995;165:1277-1279.
  17. Chandan VS, Zimmerman K, Baker P, Scalzetti E, Khurana KK: Usefulness of core roll preparations in immediate assessment of neoplastic lung lesions: comparison to conventional CT scan-guided lung fine needle aspiration cytology. Chest 2004;126:739-743.
  18. Gupta NJ, Wang HH: Increase of core biopsies in visceral organs: experience at one institution. Diagn Cytopathol 2011;39:791-795.

Author Contacts

Correspondence to: Dr. Varsha Manucha

Department of Pathology, University of Mississippi Medical Center

2500 North State Street

Jackson, MS 39216 (USA)

E-Mail vmanucha@umc.edu


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Received: January 24, 2017
Accepted: February 06, 2017
Published online: March 22, 2017
Issue release date: March–April

Number of Print Pages: 5
Number of Figures: 2
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0001-5547 (Print)
eISSN: 1938-2650 (Online)

For additional information: https://www.karger.com/ACY


Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

References

  1. Committee on Practice Bulletins - Gynecology: ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 131: screening for cervical cancer. Obstet Gynecol 2012;120:1222-1238.
  2. Kamel HMH: Trends and practices in pathology practice. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 2011;11:38-44.
  3. Jemal A, Simard EP, Dorell C, Noone AM, Markowitz LE, Kohler B, Eheman C, Saraiya M, Bandi P, Saslow D, Cronin KA, Watson M, Schiffman M, Henley SJ, Schymura MJ, Anderson RN, Yankey D, Edwards BK: Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2009, featuring the burden and trends in human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers and HPV vaccination coverage levels. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013;105:175-201.
  4. Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson HW, Killackey M, Kulasingam SL, Cain J, Garcia FA, Moriarty AT, Waxman AG, Wilbur DC, Wentzensen N, Downs LS Jr, Spitzer M, Moscicki AB, Franco EL, Stoler MH, Schiffman M, Castle PE, Myers ER: American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology screening guidelines for the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. CA Cancer J Clin 2012;62:147-172.
  5. Moyer VA: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Screening for cervical cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med 2012;156:880-891.
  6. Abraham J, Stenger M: Cobas HPV test for first-line screening for cervical cancer. J Community Support Oncol 2014;12:156-157.
  7. Dinkelspiel H, Kinney W: State of the science: cervical cancer screening in transition. Gynecol Oncol 2014;133:389-393.
  8. Huh WK, Ault KA, Chelmow D, Davey DD, Goulart RA, Garcia FA, Kinney WK, Massad LS, Mayeaux EJ, Saslow D, Schiffman M, Wentzensen N, Lawson HW, Einstein MH: Use of primary high-risk human papillomavirus testing for cervical cancer screening: interim clinical guidance. Obstet Gynecol 2015;125:330-337.
  9. Crothers BA, Kurtycz DFI, Bloom LI: Cytopathology and more: cytopathology at the tipping point. CAP TODAY 2014; may; retrieved from http://www.captodayonline.com/cytopathology-at-the-tipping-point/.
  10. Aisner DL, Sams SB: The role of cytology specimens in molecular testing of solid tumors: techniques, limitations, and opportunities. Diagn Cytopathol 2012;40:511-524.
  11. Padmanabhan V, Barkan G, Nayar R: Cytopathology and more: assessing needle core biopsy adequacy - survey of practices. CAP TODAY 2016; may; retrieved from http://www.captodayonline.com/assessing-needle-core-biopsy-adequacy-survey-practices-516/.
  12. Rekhtman N, Kazi S, Yao J, Dogan S, Yannes A, Lin O, Silk M, Silk T, Durack JC: Depletion of core needle biopsy cellularity and DNA content as a result of vigorous touch preparations. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2015;139:907-912.
  13. Travis WD, Rekhtman N: Pathological diagnosis and classification of lung cancer in small biopsies and cytology: strategic management of tissue for molecular testing. Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2011;32:22-31.
  14. Dogan S, Becker J, Rekhtman N, Tang L, Nafa K, Ladanyi M, Kilmstra DS: Use of touch imprint cytology as a simple method to enrich tumor cells for molecular analysis. Cancer Cytopathol 2013;121:354-360.
  15. Mangia A, Chiriatti A, Chiarappa P, Incalza M, Antonaci G, Pilato B, Simone G, Tommasi S, Paradiso A: Touch imprint cytology in tumor tissue banks for the confirmation of neoplastic cellularity and for DNA extraction. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2008;132:974-978.
  16. Hahn PF, Eisenberg PJ, Pitman MB, Gazelle GS, Mueller PR: Cytopathologic touch preparations (imprints) from core needle biopsies: accuracy compared with that of fine-needle aspirates. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1995;165:1277-1279.
  17. Chandan VS, Zimmerman K, Baker P, Scalzetti E, Khurana KK: Usefulness of core roll preparations in immediate assessment of neoplastic lung lesions: comparison to conventional CT scan-guided lung fine needle aspiration cytology. Chest 2004;126:739-743.
  18. Gupta NJ, Wang HH: Increase of core biopsies in visceral organs: experience at one institution. Diagn Cytopathol 2011;39:791-795.
ppt logo Download Images (.pptx)


Figures
Thumbnail
Thumbnail

Tables
Thumbnail
Thumbnail
Thumbnail