Frequently Asked Questions

Does the cell harvesting hurt?
No. Some patients may feel a slight discomfort, but for most people it doesn't hurt at all. The feeling is similar to rubbing a medium bristled toothbrush on the soft tissues.


Do I have to draw blood?
The process is called exfoliative cytology where the epilithial cells are collected by a soft swab. Obtaining an adequate cell sample does not require the tissue to bleed.


What if the cancer is below the basement membrane, will the CytID brush collect those cells?
Since nearly all malignancies in the oral cavity originate in the epithelial layer, the swab will capture these. If there are cancerous cells below the basement membrane, it will most likely be the metastasized cells from the epithelium. Fortunately, collecting only the epithelial cells is required for obtaining an adequate sample.


What will be contained in the cytology report from the Pathologist?
There will be three major categories of reporting for oral cytology:

  • Negative – Within Normal Limits, No Evidence of Malignancy
  • Atypical – Suggestive of Dysplastic changes
  • Malignancy – Malignant or changes suggestive of Malignancy


Also reported may be infections and organisms present in the sample, usually in the text of the report.


How would a cheek bite or ulcer come back on a report?
Trauma or an ulcer will be reported as a normal cytology. If mid and lower level maturated cells are in the sample, these would suggest ulcer or trauma rather than neoplasm. This is a definite advantage for cytology: to substantiate that from a swab sample that a visible lesion is benign.


Can CytID also test for HPV infection?
Yes. If abnormal cells are reported and the appropriate check box is marked on the Patient Requisition Form, the reflex HPV DNA test will be employed and the HPV type(s) will be reported.