What is cytology?
Cytology is the exam of a single cell type, as often found in fluid specimens. It's
mainly used to diagnose or screen for cancer. It's also used to screen for fetal abnormalities,
for pap smears, to diagnose infectious organisms, and in other screening and diagnostic
The cells to be examined may be taken through the following methods:
Scraping or brushing the tissue surface, such as during a pap smear
Collecting body fluids, such for urine or respiratory phlegm
Fine-needle aspirations. This is removing cells by drawing them through a fine needle,
such as abdominal fluid in ascites, pleural fluid from the lungs, or cerebrospinal
fluid from the spinal canal.
Other types of tissue biopsy
Cytology is different from histology. Cytology generally involves looking at a single
cell type. Histology is the exam of an entire block of tissue.