Short Courses and Special Courses

SC02 - Molecular Diagnostics in Cytopathology: Opportunities, Limitations and Pitfalls

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
This Short Course session includes up to a half-hour break.

Session Credits:

3 CME and 3 SAMs


Sinchita Roy-Chowdhuri, MD, PhD, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Michael Roh, MD, PhD, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI

Course Description

Molecular diagnostics are increasingly being utilized to help guide targeted therapy in solid organ tumors and hematologic malignancies. A large proportion of molecular diagnostic testing is performed on limited volume samples obtained via minimally invasive techniques such as fine needle aspiration. Increasingly, cytopathologists, are at the forefront of triaging specimens during rapid on-site evaluation and selecting specimens for ancillary testing. Therefore, it is imperative that practicing cytopathologists, stay abreast of up-to-date diagnostic and prognostic ancillary tests utilizing limited Cytologic material. Cell blocks are traditionally and most commonly utilized for ancillary studies including immunocytochemistry and molecular assays; however, variations in cell block cellularity, in a large fraction of cases, represent a significant limitation of cell block preparations. We will discuss cell blocks and other alternative Cytologic specimen sources for ancillary studies, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each, to help the participants triage Cytologic specimens for ancillary testing in their own practices. We will also provide participants with an overview of current molecular diagnostics in the context of the cytology specimen, together with a basic understanding and working knowledge of the available technology and platforms, clinical applications, limitations, regulatory issues, and integration into patient care. The overall goal of this short course is to serve as a timely discussion of this topic at a critical juncture when pathologists must meet the challenge of optimally utilizing FNA material for diagnosis and necessary ancillary studies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this educational activity, the learner will be able to:

  • Recognize current molecular ancillary studies in the context of Cytologic specimens and understand the basics of ancillary testing with an emphasis on analytic sensitivity, how they affect testing, and how best to utilize a specimen to fit a specific molecular ancillary test.
  • Compare and contrast different Cytologic specimen preparations (e.g., cell blocks, direct smears, Whitman cards, frozen specimens, liquid-based preparations etc.) as well as different molecular technologies (Sanger sequencing, pyrosequencing, real-time, next-generation sequencing etc.) and recognize the advantage and disadvantage of each.
  • Identify qualitative and quantitative requirements for molecular analysis including pre-analytical variables and devise strategies for implementation of optimal Cytologic specimen triage for performing relevant ancillary studies.
  • Implement specimen triage strategies via a case-based approach demonstration. The course is designed for general pathologists, cytopathologists, cytotechnologists, and advanced trainees in pathology and cytopathology. Registrants will be able to view the comprehensive syllabus consisting of the PowerPoint slides and references on the USCAP website prior to the meeting.


Continuing Medical Education and Maintenance of Certification

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology designates this live activity for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The USCAP is approved by the American Board of Pathology (ABP) to offer Self-Assessment credits (SAMs) for the purpose of meeting the ABP requirements for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Physicians must take and pass the post-test in order to claim SAMs credit.

Physicians can earn a maximum of 3 SAM credit hours.


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