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Cytology and the pandemic

This RCPath article describes the major impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cytopathology services across the UK. Many issues are similar to those faced by other pathology disciplines but others are unique.

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No one could have imagined the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on society, and the tragic toll on human life. As across pathology, the cytology community has struggled with huge changes not only in our personal lives, but also in working practices.

In common with other areas of pathology, cytopathology services have experienced a significant reduction in demand during the pandemic.

Nevertheless, diagnostic cytology remains central to cancer diagnosis, and laboratories are still receiving bronchoscopy specimens, pleural and peritoneal fluids/washings, and urine and cerebrospinal fluid samples. As many cytology samples are received fresh and considered potentially hazardous, cytopathology laboratories are used to handling samples in compliance with the control of infection guidance. However, all procedures have had to be revisited in the light of COVID-19 guidance.