WPMC offers cytology lab


Greene County News

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Fewer things in life could be scarier than a diagnosis of cancer or any other life threatening disease.

At the Wright-Patterson Medical Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the first line of defense and treatment is identifying that one actually has a disease, and that determination is often accomplished within the Cytology lab.

Cytology is a medical specialty that deals with making diagnoses of diseases and conditions through the examination of cells from the body. A diagnosis is often performed by looking at cells collected from body fluids (example: urine, blood and cerebrospinal fluid). These can often be collected through non-invasive methods, making it easier on the patient. Once the material is collected it is spread onto glass slides and stained. A pathologist then examines the sample under a microscope. After examination a diagnosis can be determined.

“Most people are unfamiliar with cytology,” said Pamela Baker, Cyto Technician Processor at WPMC. “Women may be slightly more familiar with the process because they have dealt with a Papanicolaou test, more commonly known as a Pap smear. Mostly folks who have been diagnosed with cancer are the ones who know of Cytology. I myself am a 10 year survivor of a cancer diagnosis. I know firsthand how important early detection is.”

Histology, the collection of tissues (usually from surgery), and Cytology are both used in early diagnoses of disease and both fall under Pathology, which is the science of cause and effects of diseases. In the fight against disease, Pathology is usually the first indicator that a disease is present. Early detection of cancer increases an individual’s chance of curability, according to the American Cancer Society.

“We have some very fine people here who work very hard. We have had technicians go on to pursue careers as doctors,” said Bill Taylor, Anatomic Pathology Technology Supervisor “We are the first screening step towards determining disease. We have very little face-to-face interaction with patients and what we do is done behind closed doors. We are a precise tool of the doctor and we make sure the science we provide is the best possible for the patient.”

Cytology and Histology technicians have little interaction with patients, but this does not dampen their enthusiasm for the mission they perform.

“I was working in this lab when I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Baker. “I know this job is very important and I love it. We are the first step in working toward being cured.”

Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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