Happy National Cytotechnology Day!

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Today we celebrate National Cytotechnology Day with an introduction on the creator of the Pap smear, which revolutionized the early detection of cervical cancer.

Happy National Cytotechnology Day!

Karen DiDonato ⋅ April 13, 2021

Today is National Cytotechnology Day!


Every year since 1985, National Cytotechnology Day has been celebrated on May 13, the birthday of Dr. George Papanicolaou.


Dr. Papanicolaou is best known for creating the Papanicolaou test, commonly known as the Pap smear, which revolutionized the early detection of cervical cancer.

a doctor swabs a slide in the background with a woman's naked leg in the foreground

During that time he made significant contributions to medicine:


In 1916, while studying sex chromosomes, he deduced that reproductive cycles in the experimental animals could be timed by examining smears of their vaginal secretions. From 1920, he began to focus on the cytopathology of the human reproductive system. He was thrilled when he was able to discern differences between the cytology of normal and malignant cervical cells upon a simple viewing of swabs smeared on microscopic slides. Although his initial publication of the finding in 1928 went largely unnoticed, that year was filled with other happy events for Papanicolaou. He became a US citizen and received a promotion to Assistant Professor at Cornell. As part of his research at the New York Hospital, he collaborated with Dr Herbert Traut, a gynaecological pathologist, eventually publishing their landmark book in 1943, Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear. It described physiological changes of the menstrual cycle and the influence of hormones and malignancy on vaginal cytology. Importantly, it showed that normal and abnormal smears taken from the vagina and cervix could be viewed under the microscope and be correctly classified. The simple procedure, now famously known as the Pap smear or test, quickly became the gold standard in screening for cervical cancer. As it cost little, was easy to perform and could be interpreted accurately, the Pap smear found widespread use and resulted in a significant decline in the incidence of cervical cancer.

Taken from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4613936/

Papanicolaou died at 78 years old in Miami on February 19, 1962. 


The United States commemorated Dr. Papanicolaou’s significant contributions to medicine by issuing a commemorative stamp promoting early cancer detection. Greece commemorated him by featuring his face on a 10,000 drachma bill in 1995.


Today we thank all the cytotechnologists working to microscopically study cells to detect cancer, viral and bacterial infections, and other abnormal conditions. We appreciate them as they accurately detect precancerous, malignant, and infectious conditions.


We currently have multiple cytology opportunities open throughout the country for both contract and permanent positions.

Diamantis, Aristidis & Magiorkinis, Emmanouil & Koutselini, Helen. (2014). 50 years after the death of George Nicholas Papanicolaou (1883-1962): evaluation of his scientific work. Acta medico-historica adriatica : AMHA. 12. 181-188.

Let us help you find your latest cytotechnology contract or your new full time job by clicking here. It would be our pleasure to match you to your next opportunity as we celebrate National Cytotechnology Day.

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Author: Karen DiDonatoKaren, our content marketing strategist, has worked with HCI since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, gardening, running, and all things Peloton-related.