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Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology, a new and easy cancer diagnostic procedure

<div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">When a lump, or a bump is discovered in superficial areas of the body such as the breast and neck, a test known as Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) is recommended to determine whether the lump is cancer.  This procedure is also used to test for thyroid, salivary glands and lymph nodes illnesses.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Dr Maureen Waithaka, Resident Anatomic Pathologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, explained, “FNAC procedure involves the insertion of a small hypodermic needle, usually the size of an office pin, or smaller into the lump. The needle may have a syringe attached during FNAC biopsies.  When a syringe is used, suction is applied to allow more material to be obtained. The needle is inserted and drawn in and out for a period of about five seconds and then withdrawn. The material is then smeared on a glass slide.  This undergoes staining and microscopic examination by a pathologist who renders the results.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“Patients are mostly referred by their primary care physician to the pathologist who carries out this test in a laboratory setting.  In addition to testing lumps and bumps, FNAC biopsy is also useful in the diagnosis of other diseases such as tuberculosis infection of the lymph nodes which is common in the country. This test can also be used for more deep-seated organs such as the lung, liver and kidney to check for ailments.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“The interpretation of an FNAC biopsy is varied and although in some cases an actual diagnosis may require further testing usually involving a surgical biopsy, important insight into the illness can be obtained from an FNAC biopsy. It can rule out cancer which in many cases is the major worry which alleviates patent anxiety and indicates quick treatment like removal of the lump if deemed necessary.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“The FNAC biopsy has numerous benefits, apart from being fast and accurate, it is safe. It is an outpatient diagnosis which is submitted to the primary physician within 48 hours, enabling treatment to be administered. The procedure leaves no scars, requires no hospitalisation and no elaborate preparation.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“Many patients are anxious about the pain associated with a needle-stick. Although the biopsy is not painless, the pain is minor and well-tolerated. A local anaesthetic spray reduces the discomfort even further.  Another common worry with patients with a cancerous growth is that having an FNAC examination will cause spread of the cancer. This is exceedingly rare and not a contraindication to carrying out the procedure.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div>

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