British Society for Clinical Cytology on UEMS Meeting 2011

Dear All

In the UK cytopathology is a defined area of expertise within Histopathology, but it is not recognised as a formal sub-speciality.

The training and examination for the Royal College of Pathologists includes defined sections on cytology at all levels within a very formal curriculum. This ensures that all cellular pathology trainees are trained to an acceptable standard in all areas of the core curriculum, but can choose to do additional specialist in one or more areas. Cervical cytopathology is such an option

The BSCC does not support the establishment of cytopathology training as a stand alone qualification. We believe that expertise in Histopathology is complementary to cytopathology, and that consultants in cytopathology need training according to the RCPath curriculum in Histopathology as well.

We believe that 5 years of subspecialist training (after a minimum of 2 years training in medicine and surgery following graduation) is sufficient time to acquire expertise in cytopathology, provided that this time is wisely used. For this reason we would commend the RCPath curriculum for run-through training which defines the knowledge and skills trainees are required to achieve.

The current situation in UK for trainees starting in Histopathology in August 2011, or for existing trainees who swap to the new curriculum, is as follows:

  • Cytopathology (both cervical and non-gynaecological) forms a part of common trunk training in Histopathology at a basic level up to stage B of the curriculum (the trainee exits stage B following attaining their part 1 FRCPath exam which would normally be within their third year of subspecialist training).This training is important and it includes both theory and practical components where the trainee learns to differentiate normal and abnormal (pre-cancerous and cancerous) epithelial and cellular changes and the basics of the cervical screening programme.
  • After this initial training the trainee continues to get non-gynaecological cytology training through the common trunk training in Histopathology route.
  • Due to the special circumstances pertinent to UK the trainees can opt out from cervical cytology curriculum after stage B, however they have the option to continue doing cervical cytology. If they choose to continue they sit an extra paper at their part 2 FRCPath exam, which is passed or failed separately to the rest of the exam,  however, it should be noted that the trainee is still required to do all the core components of the common trunk and pass the exam in these. Completion of the extra cervical cytology component would be required for a consultant job which includes cervical cytology, and also extends the total training time by 3 months to allow for the extra training undertaken.



President British Society for Clinical Cytology (BSCC)

Dr. Mina Desai CBE
Head of Cytopathology Service/
Clinical Lead for Gynaecological Cytology/Consultant Cytopathologist

Manchester Cytology Centre
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
1st Floor, Clinical Sciences Building 2
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9WW
Telephone number: 0161 276 5099
Fax number: 0161 276 5113
E-mail: Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust includes: Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Saint Mary’s Hospital, University Dental Hospital of Manchester.