Cytopathology (Cytology)

Our department was awarded the contract to become the single provider of the Cervical Cytology Screening Service for the East of England. As a result we’re one of the eight cytology departments in the country and cover Norfolk and Waveney, Peterborough, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. We receive around 400,000 smear tests a year and 4,000 non-gynae tests.

All cervical screening tests follow the HPV Primary pathway in which samples are first tested for the presence of high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA. If the virus is present a slide cellular preparation is made and microscope examination is completed to identify abnormal cellular changes.

The samples are requested via a dedicated ICE system unique to cervical screening known as ICE-NI.

On receipt in the laboratory, samples are unpacked, checked and registered onto the computer by our well-trained and experienced Biomedical Support Workers (BMSWs).

Biomedical Scientists ensure the samples are processed on Roche molecular diagnostics analysers and the results obtained are quality assured and of the highest quality.

Samples in which high risk HPV DNA is not detected the sample is reported as Negative and in most cases the patients are given a routine recall (3 or 5 years depending on age).

Samples in which the virus is detected have a slide made using Hologic Thinprep technology, where a thin layer of cells is transferred to a glass slide and stained using the Papanicolaou technique.

Cervical sample preparations are examined under a microscope by highly trained Cytology Screeners and Biomedical Scientists to look for abnormal cells that may represent pre-cancerous conditions of the uterine cervix. Abnormal samples are graded according to degree of dyskaryosis (abnormal nucleus) by a team of Consultant Biomedical Scientists and Consultant Cytopathologists.  The laboratory will arrange a patient referral directly to their local colposcopy unit. Very occasionally cervical cytology is useful in identifying other abnormalities such as ovarian and endometrial cancers.

The performance of all staff who screen cervical cytology slides is monitored very closely to ensure accurate patient results.

We’re UKAS accredited for the detection of High-Risk HPV DNA and the morphological assessment and interpretation/diagnosis of LBC samples and also the examination of non gynaecological body fluids to identify or exclude cytological abnormalities for the purpose of diagnosis.

Opening times

Monday 8.30am – 5pm
Tuesday 8.30am – 5pm
Wednesday 8.30am – 5pm
Thursday 8.30am – 5pm
Friday 8.30am – 5pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Contact details

Main telephone number: 01603 286035