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The examination of individual cells that are shed from various internal body surfaces for abnormal (cancerous) morphological appearance.

Cytology has become established as an aid for the diagnosis of cancer in a number of body organs, especially those of the respiratory, urinary and female genital tracts.

In particular, the Papanicolaou smear test, or Pap screen, is invaluable in the early detection of cervical cancer.

Abnormal cells are detected microscopically upon examination of stained slides by the medical scientist.