External quality assurance in nongynecologic cytology: The Australasian experience

Paul W. Shield, Felicity Frost, Jo L. Finnimore, R. Gordon Wright, Margaret C. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Cytopathology Quality Assurance Program has operated an external quality assurance program in nongynecologic cytopathology since 1993. Glass slide preparations of a wide range of nongynecologic cases were circulated to approximately 200 cytopathology laboratories in 16 countries. METHODS: General nongynecologic cytology cases were manufactured from residual specimens after routine diagnosis. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) cases were made by sampling fresh tissue and making direct specimens. The majority of cases consisted of both air-dried and fixed preparations. Results returned to laboratories included illustrated case discussions highlighting diagnostic features, key differential diagnoses, and useful adjunctive tests. RESULTS: The current study reviewed >22,000 results for 123 nongynecologic cases. Cases found to cause the most diagnostic difficulties included serous effusion cases with metastatic carcinoma in a dispersed pattern, well-differentiated carcinoma, and cellular reactive cases; urine specimens with sparse malignant cells; reactive pneumocytes in a bronchoalveolar lavage; breast FNA cases with papillary lesions; gestational specimens; and fibroadenoma. FNA specimens from the lung and thyroid, particularly papillary thyroid carcinoma, generally were well reported. CONCLUSIONS: The use of multiple preparations of the same specimen has allowed interlaboratory comparison, and the quality assurance program has played an educational role as well as informing the laboratory accreditation process. Cancer Cytopathol 2017;125:349–361.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-361
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


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