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Cytopathology. 2008 Feb;19(1):4-10. Epub 2007 Oct 3.

Thyroid FNAC cytology: can we do it better?

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, UK.


This article reviews recent developments in thyroid fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC). While thyroid nodules are common, carcinoma is comparatively rare. Although histological assessment is used in most studies as the benchmark, the differential diagnosis on cytology or histology is not always reproducible. The literature shows wide variations in criteria for inadequate thyroid FNAC and study inclusion or exclusion criteria. In-clinic assessment of specimen adequacy and in-clinic reporting of thyroid FNAC has become popular although the costs and resource implications of in-clinic thyroid FNAC assessment and reporting are substantial. Many centres continue to use conventional techniques although liquid-based cytology and ultrasound-guided FNAC are gaining in popularity. Standardized categorical systems for FNAC reporting can make results easier to understand for clinicians and give clear indications for therapeutic action. Multidisciplinary case review is also essential, especially when there is diagnostic uncertainty. While currently of limited use, molecular pathology testing holds out some promise for the future.

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