The Scheme

The External Quality Assessment Scheme for Immunocytochemistry was founded in 1985 by Mr Gerry Reynolds at Mount Vernon Hospital, Middlesex.
In 1988 the Scheme was recognised by the UK Department of Health and from that time it became known as the UK National External Quality Assessment Service for Immunocytochemistry (UK NEQAS-ICC and later UKNEQAS ICC & ISH).

UK NEQAS ICC & ISH is hosted by External Quality Assessment Services For Cancer Diagnostics CIC (EQAS-CD); a Community Interest Company limited by guarantee (No:10585826) and registered in England and Wales.

Both UK NEQAS ICC & ISH and its host, EQAS-CD are run on a not-for-profit basis. All participant subscriptions are used in the delivery of our EQA services and associated educational programmes.

Currently UK NEQAS ICC & ISH offers assessments in more than 20 different immunocytochemistry modules and 3 different ISH modules at approximately 4-monthly intervals throughout the year. The details are as follows;

  • Module 1: General Pathology
  • Module 2A: Breast Pathology (Hormonal Receptors – ER only)
  • Module 2B: Breast Pathology (Hormonal Receptors – ER and PR)
  • Module 3: Breast Pathology HER2 IHC
  • Module 4: Lymphoid Pathology
  • Module 5: Neuropathology
  • Module 6: Cytopathology (Cell Blocks and Cytospins preparations)
  • Module 7: Alimentary Tract Pathology – GIST
  • Module 8: Gastric HER2 IHC
  • Module 9: Breast HER2 ISH (Interpretive & Technical)
  • Module 10: NSCLC ALK IHC
  • Module 11: NSCLC PD-L1 IHC (Pilot)
  • Module 12: NSCLC ALK/ROS1 FISH (Pilot)
  • Module 13: Mismatch Repair (MMR) Proteins
  • Module 14: NSCLC ROS1 IHC (Pilot)

This entails the handling and assessment of over 5,000 slides every quarter and over 20,000 slides per annum.

Details of each module can be found in the Modules section that follow. Participants are encouraged to participate in those modules that are compatible with the range of immunocytochemistry and/or in-situ hybridisation performed in their laboratory.

International Laboratories

“The service currently attracts members from over fifty different countries”

We welcomes participation from both UK and non-UK based laboratories. In some countries the number of participants is quite substantial and this has given the Scheme the opportunity to attract a significant number of overseas assessors.

Educational Remit Of The Service

One of the main aims of the service is to provide useful information on methods and reagents that allow for improved quality of immunocytochemistry.

To this end, the main technical steps employed by participants at assessment are collated onto a database and subsequently tabulated to show the proportion of participants using a particular reagent or automated system, that achieved acceptable staining at assessment.

The results of these analyses appear as best methods and are presented in graph and table forms, along with images, as part of the online EQA reports and results that participants receive. The UK NEQAS ICC & ISH e-journal ‘Immunocytochemistry’ also contain reviews and colour prints showing optimal demonstration of the antigens assessed, examples of high scoring methods and frequency charts illustrating the distribution of participants scores for each run.