Kara Hansing, Program Director for the Mayo Clinic Cytotechnology Program, discusses how the cytotechnologist role has evolved over the years in an article published in Cancer Cytopathology.
The article describes the early years of cytology at Mayo, dating back to the 1940s. In those times, there were two separate cytology laboratories—one at the Saint Marys Campus and one at Methodist Hospital. A cytotechnologist at that time was trained to screen Papanicolaou smears.
The two cytology laboratories were consolidated into one in 1977, and a more formalized cytotechnology program was instituted through the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. Today, the Cytopathology Laboratory is home to a wide array of health care professionals including cytotechnologists, research and development technologists, clinical laboratory technologists, laboratory assistants, and reporting specialists. The Cytopathology Laboratory has also expanded its reach from the original two campuses. Each year, more than 20,000 specimens are submitted to the Cytology Laboratory through Mayo Medical Laboratories from hospitals around the world.
The duties of the cytotechnologist have evolved to include preanalytic review of DNA-based and RNA-based genetic tests, marking tumors for macrodissection or for fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) probe application, and quantifying tumor cells to verify there is enough for sampling.
Hansing explains how molecular testing is being ordered more frequently, creating an increase in molecular testing on cytology samples (approximately 2,000 slides per month). To prepare future graduates for new cutting-edge practices and changes to the cytotechnologist’s role, the Mayo Clinic Cytotechnology Program trains students on both tissue slide review and adequacy assessment.
Read Kara Hansing’s article, “Cytotechnology Education from a Mayo Perspective,” from the November 2017 issue of Cancer Cytopathology.