Urine cytology is a test that is specifically designed to look for any abnormal cells in your urine. It is used along with other procedures and tests to diagnose urinary tract cancers.
In most cases, urine cytology is used to diagnose bladder cancer, though it may also be used to detect cancers of the kidney, prostate, ureter, and urethra.
Your doctor may recommend a urine cytology test if blood has been detected in your urine (hematuria).
Urine cytology may also be used in people who have already received a diagnosis of bladder cancer and have undergone treatment. In such cases, a urine cytology test may help detect a bladder cancer recurrence.
2 Reasons for Procedure
The main reason urine cytology is used along with other tests and procedures designed to diagnose cancers of the urinary tract, including:
The risk of urine cytology testing depends on the method used to collect your urine. In most cases, urine is collected by urinating into a sterile container, which does not carry any risk.
However, if your urine is collected by inserting a thin hollow tube (catheter) into your urethra, there is a risk of urinary tract infection. Ask your doctor about the specific risks of the procedure.
4 Preparing for your Procedure
In order to prepare for a urine cytology test, you must try to schedule your test for some time after your first morning urination.
Urine that is eliminated during your first morning urination cannot be used for urine cytology.
Cells that are held overnight in your bladder may be degraded, making them difficult to analyze in the laboratory.
5 What to Expect
Here you can find out what to expect from your urine cytology procedure.
Collecting a urine sample for testing. A urine cytology test requires a urine sample. In the majority of cases, the sample is obtained by urinating into a sterile container.
In other cases, it is obtained by using a thin, hollow tube (catheter) that is inserted through your urethra and mod up to your bladder. Examining the urine sample in the laboratory.
Your urine sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis by a doctor who specializes in examining body tissues (pathologist).
The pathologist analyzes any cells in the sample under a microscope. The pathologist notes the types of cells and looks for signs in the cells that might indicate cancer.
6 Procedure Results
The pathologist will send the results of your urine cytology test to your doctor, who will then explain the results to you.
You may ask your doctor how long you can expect to wait for your results. Every lab has its own way of describing the results of a urine cytology exam.
The following are the common words used in pathology reports:
Unsatisfactory specimen. This usually means that not enough cells or the wrong type of cells were found in your urine sample. You may need to repeat the urine cytology in such as case.
Negative. This means that no cancer cells were found in the urine sample.
Atypical. This shows that some abnormalities were discovered in the cells in the urine sample, but while the cells were not normal, the also were not abnormal enough to be deduced as cancerous.
Suspicious. This term may indicate that urine cells were abnormal and may be cancerous.
Positive. A positive result indicates that cancer cells were found in the urine sample. A urine cytology cannot be used alone to make a cancer diagnosis.
If atypical or cancerous cells are detected in your urine, your doctor will likely recommend a cystoscopy procedure and a computerized tomography (CT) scan to examine your bladder and urinary tract abnormalities.
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