The American Society of Cytopathology (ASC), founded in 1951, is a distinguished national professional society of physicians, cytotechnologists and scientist who are dedicated to the cytologic method of diagnostic pathology. The ASC’s diverse membership includes representatives from other countries who share a vision of education, research and continuous improvement in the standards and quality of patient care. The ASC is a unique society that provides a forum where physicians and cytotechnologists can interact and network with each other on both a personal and professional level.
Recognizing that the future of medicine is in building teams of healthcare providers, the ASC collaborates with other professional organizations and government agencies to address issues relating to cytopathology. Education will remains a primary focus of these collaborations, with the outcome of improved patient care.
WHAT IS CYTOPATHOLOGY?
Cytopathology is a diagnostic technique that examines cells from various body sites to determine the cause or the nature of disease. The first cytopathology test developed was the Pap test which has been widely utilized in the last 50 years for screening and diagnosing of cervical cancer and its precursors. The Pap test is considered the most successful screening test in medical history.
Since the development of the Pap test, the practice of cytopathology has expanded to include samples from nearly all body sites. Cell samples are taken for analysis as part of many diagnostic tests such as bronchoscopy or cystoscopy. In addition, nearly any tissue mass can be sampled and diagnosed by fine needle aspiration biopsy. In this procedure, cells are aspirated from masses just below the skin in the doctor’s office or during a radiologic examination. This approach allows diagnosis of a lesion with minimal discomfort to the patient and guides the primary physician in the next steps in patient follow-up.
WHO ARE WE?
The ASC is a 3,000 member professional organization dedicated to excellence in the practice of Cytopathology.
Members consist of Cytotechnologists and Cytopathologists. Cytotechnologists are allied health professionals with specialized training, who provide screening and interpretation of cytopathology tests (i.e. Pap test, urine, effusions, Fine Needle Aspirations, etc. Cytotechnologists complete a Baccalaureate degree and a CAAHEP-accredited cytotechnology training program to be eligible to take the Board of Certification examination of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, which certifies them to practice.
Cytopathologists are medical doctors who have completed a four-year pathology residency program; many Cytopathologists spend an additional year of training in an approved fellowship program. They are responsible for review and interpretation of cytopathology tests.
WHAT IS OUR ROLE IN HEALTHCARE?
The team of Cytotechnologists and Cytopathologists maintains a patient-centered approach by performing Fine Needle Aspirations with on-site adequacy assessment in collaboration with radiologists and primary care physicians.
Cytotechnologists and Cytopathologists examine cells that have been exfoliated (shed), scraped from the body or aspirated with a fine needle. Cell specimens are processed into slides and examined microscopically for the diagnosis of cancer, precancerous conditions, benign tumors and some infectious conditions. The test results are communicated to the primary physician for medical or surgical treatment and follow up for the patients.