Diagnostic and Molecular Pathology

The Diagnostic and Molecular Pathology department includes Histology, the Molecular Cell Biology Unit and Cytology. Our service is consultant-led with approximately 70 medical, scientific and support staff.


The Histology service analyses samples to help diagnose, predict and screen, including:

  • Surgical
  • Frozen sections including Mohs
  • Post mortem tissue specimens
  • Special stains
  • Electron microscopy, in conjunction with the University of Plymouth
  • Screening service as part of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes (Bowel and Breast).

Molecular & Cell Biology Unit

The molecular and cell biology unit provides specialist testing in the following areas:

  • Routine immunohistochemistry
  • Direct immunofluorescence
  • HER2 testing for the Far South West Peninsula
  • Molecular techniques such as in-situ hybridisation (CISH, DDISH and FISH)
  • One Step Nucleic Acid amplification (OSNA)
  • EGFR molecular testing
  • Support for Research, Development and Innovation including clinical trials


Cytopathology provides both a cervical screening service (for gynaecology) and diagnostic cytology service (non-gynaecological).

Cervical Cytology

Cervical Cytology provides cervical screening service for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Liquid based Cytopathology is used in conjunction with Microbiology to provide HPV testing for patients from Cornwall and Plymouth.

Diagnostic Cytology

Diagnostic Cytology provides:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) for head, neck and breast
  • Liquid Based Cytology (LBC) for bronchial, oesophageal and common bile duct samples
  • Body fluid and aspirate cytology
  • EUS/EBUS (Endoscopic and endobronchial ultrasound) FNA service. Adequacy of the sample is assessed within the clinical setting. Samples include; Mediastinal lymph node FNA’s (transbronchial  (EBUS) and transesophageal (EUS)) and Pancreatic FNA’s

Key Diagnostic and Molecular Pathology Contacts

Head of Department

Dr Hanne-Brit Smethurst
01872 252550

Lead Biomedical Scientist

Peter Helliwell
01872 252550

Chief Biomedical Scientist (Histology)

Valerie Rodd
01872 252550

Chief Biomedical Scientist (Cytology)

Cathy Winn
01872 252550

Histology Office Manager

Natalie Blewett
01872 252550