Cytology is an additional method of pathomorphological diagnostics and is based on the study and assessment of the cell material obtained from a pathological lesion with a fine-needle puncture, scraping or smear of the pathologically altered surface. The collected material contains a very small amount of tissue in the form of separate groups of cells. This allows for a high-quality analysis to find out if the pathological process is malignant or benign and to approximately assess the type of the tumor. Among the advantages of a cytological examination are its simplicity, low level of trauma, speed, and low cost. The shortcomings include low accuracy and specificity as well as no possibility (in most cases) to identify the most important biological features of the tumor.
Cytological examination is used to assess the discharge from the nipples, puncture samples of the cysts and other fluid formations, as well as suspicious lymphatic nodes. In some cases, cytology as a result of fine-needle aspiration biopsy may be used to diagnose nodular masses in the breast and soft tissues.
However, it is unacceptable to establish a final diagnosis and prescribe oncological treatment based on this diagnostic method.