Molecular diagnostics, personalized medicine, and the evolving role of the cytotechnologist: An institutional experience

Lindsey E. Kane, Renee R. Root, Jesse S. Voss, Jill L. Caudill, Angela M. Sorenson, Lisa K. Colborn, Kevin C. Halling, Michael R. Henry, Amy C. Clayton, Benjamin R. Kipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The role of cytotechnologists has focused primarily on the microscopic examination of cytologic specimens for diagnosing disease. Cytotechnologists currently evaluate a wide assortment of both gynecological and nongynecological cytology specimens. However, the Pap test remains the primary test for most cytology laboratories. Recently, human papillomavirus testing and newer cervical cancer screening guidelines have reduced the number of Pap tests, resulting in some anxiety and concern among the cytology community. However, as Pap test volumes continue to decrease, molecular oncology and ancillary testing volumes continue to increase with the advent of new biomarkers and associated personalized therapies. This change in clinical practice has resulted in evolving roles for many cytotechnologists. Cytotechnologists have skills based not only in morphology but also in understanding concepts of disease including neoplasia. These skills allow cytotechnologists to excel in many other types of laboratory testing. This article discusses how the roles of the cytotechnologist have recently expanded at our institution to include involvement in DNA ploidy analysis, quantitative immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridization, circulating tumor cells, and molecular oncology testing. Lastly, this article discusses how these newer roles benefit both the cytotechnologist and the clinical laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-685
Number of pages8
JournalActa Cytologica
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • Ancillary testing
  • Cytology
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Molecular pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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