A cytologist is a specialist in cytology, an area of
biology that deals with the study of the structure,
function, multiplication, life history, problems,
diseases, and chemistry of the cell. A cell is the
smallest, most basic unit of life, that is capable of
existing by itself.

Cytologists work closely with pathologists (who
supervise them) to analyze cells for abnormalities,
often to assess for cancer or pre-cancerous stages.

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A cytologist testing in a lab.
Pathologists are doctors who interpret and diagnose the changes caused by disease in
tissues and body fluids. Cancer is any of a large group of malignant diseases
characterized by an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of new cells in one of the body organs
or tissues.

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Cytologists generally work in laboratories and do not have much contact, if any, with
actual patients. Many cytologists work is hospital laboratories, research laboratories, or
private laboratories. In the U.S., certificates in cytotechnology are awarded via a
Bachelorís degree and/or a Masterís degree.  Some states require cytologists to also be
licensed. Cytologists need to have good visual skills due to the types of visual analyses
they need to do when studying samples under the microscope. Cytologist comes from
the Greek word "kytos" meaning "a hollow (empty) cell," and the Greek word "logos"
meaning "study." Put the two words together and you have "study (of) hollow cell(s)."