The accuracy and reliability of Pap smear testing is
a major public health concern. As the most important tool in prevention of cervical
cancer, an accurate Pap smear is vital to promoting women's health. Charged by HHS to
develop cytology laboratory standards and a national cytology proficiency test (PT) as a
part of the CDC CLIA responsibility, the Division of Laboratory
Systems in the Public Health Practice Program Office at CDC has undertaken a broad effort
to improve quality of cervical cytology performance.
- A plan to implement national cytology PT has been initiated based on recommendations
from a CDC-conducted national meeting and from the Clinical
Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee. The regulatory modifications necessary to
fully implement the plan are under development.
- A major cytology research study, comparing Pap smear screening performance in the actual
work environment, rescreening, and cytology proficiency testing (PT) using glass slides to
answer the question of whether cytology PT (both glass slide and computer-based testing)
measures actual performance has been pilot-tested. The full study is being conducted.
- Cooperative agreements with the American Society of Clinical Pathology, New England
Medical Center, and Thomas Jefferson University have demonstrated that computer-based
cytology PT programs are not only feasible, but also seem to be acceptable to
cytotechnologists as measures of their ability to identify abnormal cells in Pap smears.
- The first phase of development of a prototype computer-based cytology slide imaging
system (CytoView) , which will permit an assessment of both the
cell location and identification skills of cytotechnologists using a computer, is nearing
- It is important that cytology personnel have opportunities to improve their skills in
the interpretation of Pap smears in a learning environment. Glass slide self-study sets
provide practice in the Bethesda System; they are available from the National Laboratory Training Network(NLTN). In addition,
two interactive computer-based training programs, Bethesda System and Dysplasia, are in
development and will be released through the NLTN