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Cytology test - outdated?


The rapid advance of scientific knowledge, especially in the field of medicine, could lead us to believe that a diagnostic test that has been used for so many years may have lost its usefulness.

Almost a century has passed since Georgios Papanicolaou's initial publication in 1928, when he reported that by analysing a smear of cells from the vagina and cervix, it was possible to differentiate healthy cells from those with malignant characteristics.

The fact that the test is easy to perform, reproducible, minimally invasive and inexpensive, encouraged its widespread use and made it the standard for cervical cancer screening. Its implementation was clearly reflected in improved diagnosis, which in turn had a clear impact on reducing mortality in one of the most common cancers affecting women.

The taking of cytology by the conventional method has been replaced by the liquid cytology. The updated technique has increased its sensitivity as it is an automated process that successfully reduces the number of inadequate smears and additionally allows detection of infectious agents if present.

Although there are other tests such as colposcopy and the study of the Human Papilloma Virus, which we will address in future blogs, cytology remains an essential pillar in the early diagnosis of cervical cancer and it is for this reason that we insist on the importance of regular gynaecological check-ups as a fundamental part of women's health care.