Context. - Cytology relies heavily on morphology to make diagnoses, and morphologic criteria have not changed much in recent years. The field is being shaped predominantly by new techniques for imaging and for acquiring and processing samples, advances in molecular diagnosis and therapeutics, and regulatory issues. Objective. - To review the importance of classical morphology in the future of cytopathology, to identify areas in which cytology is expanding or contracting in its scope, and to identify factors that are shaping the field. Data Sources. - Literature review. Conclusions. - Five stories paint a picture in which classical cytomorphology will continue to have essential importance, both for diagnosis and for improving our understanding of cancer biology. New endoscopy and imaging techniques are replacing surgical biopsies with cytology samples. New molecularly targeted therapies offer a chance for cytology to play a major role, but they pose new challenges. New molecular tests have the potential to synergize with, but not replace, morphologic interpretation of thyroid fine-needle aspirations. Ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration performed by cytopathologists is opening a new field of "interventional cytopathology" with unique value. For the productive evolution of the field, it will be important for cytopathologists to play an active role in clinical trials that document the ability of cytology to achieve cost-effective health care outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Medical Laboratory Technology