Candidates with the MRCPath in histopathology must have spent at least nine months or the equivalent in periods of not less than one day (or two sessions) per week training in cytopathology, in addition to the three months minimum training in cytopathology required for the Part 1 examination. For candidates without the MRCPath in histopathology, at least three years of approved training in histopathology is required, including a minimum of three months full-time equivalent in cytopathology and, in addition, nine months of further training in cytopathology as above.
The examination has three components.
This whole-day examination consists of two three-hour essay papers, covering topics such as diagnostic cytopathology, the role of cytology in the breast and cervical screening programmes, and recent developments. Paper 1 will cover basic aspects and general principles of cytopathology and paper 2 will cover specific aspects of cytopathology. This examination has the same closed marking system as the Part 1 in histopathology.
This has three sections.
(1) This consists of six cervical smears and 12 non-gynaecological preparations. Of the 12 non-gynaecological slides, at least four are breast fine needle aspirates, and the remaining eight include serous fluids, urine, sputa, endoscopic brushings, cyst fluids and at least three fine needle aspirates from other sites.
(2) This consists of four interpretive and problem-orientated cases, which may include immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry, gross specimens, clinical photographs, X-rays and relevant histology as appropriate. Problems of cytological-histological correlation may be included.
(3) An oral examination is conducted by the internal and external examiner and may relate to any aspect of diagnostic cytopathology, recent developments in cytopathology, the role of cytology in the breast and cervical screening programmes and the management of the latter. It may also include a discussion of the interpretive and problem-orientated cases from other sections of the examination.
The practical and oral examination is conducted over two days, with the practical examination on the first day and the oral examination on the second day.
The evolution to liquid-based cytopathology
Candidates may choose to take an examination biased towards liquid-based cytopathology (LBC). This has to be arranged in advance with the examinations staff at the College. This examination takes into account the increasing use of and training in LBC, but account is also taken of the requirement for practitioners working with this technology to review smears. The breadth of material is the same as that in the non-LBC examination.