Cytopathology is a branch of pathology involving the study and diagnosis of diseases at the cellular level using a light microscope.

Traditionally the discipline has been divided into cervical cytopathology (commonly referred to as cervical cytology) and diagnostic cytopathology.


Working life

You may have heard about the cervical screening programme that has been very successful and has significantly reduced the incidence of cervical cancer since it started in 1998.

Diagnostic cytology is mainly used for diagnosis of cancer in many parts of the body including the respiratory tract, urinary tract, lymph nodes and the thyroid. This is an exciting and expanding area. In many hospitals healthcare scientists are involved at the time of sample collection and work with the clinician to ensure adequate material is collected for diagnosis and further tests such as molecular testing.

If you work in cytopathology and cervical cytology, you’ll be screening cervical samples and examining them for abnormalities. The samples are taken from the patient as a smear by a nurse or doctor and put onto slides which are then sent to the cytology laboratory where they are processed and passed to you, if you’re working as a cervical cytology screener.

As a cervical cytology screener, you will:

Although you’d be supervised by a biomedical scientist, you’d be responsible for the accuracy of your own work, and so you’d have a high level of responsibility.

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve