Urine Cytology

What is a Urine Cytology Test?

Urine Cytology is a test allowing the Cytologist to check for abnormal cells in the urine. As the urine eliminates from the body, it carries along some cells from the urinary tract (kidney, ureters, bladder and urethra).  Should there be a tumor in any one of these organs, cancer cells are also carried along; these cancer cells can be detected by the physician in the urine sample. The test is used in combination with other tests to diagnose mainly bladder cancer, but also cancer of kidney, prostate, ureter and urethra.

When is a Urine Cytology Test performed?

The physician will order a Urine Cytology Test:

  • when there is suspicion for cancer of bladder, kidneys, ureters, urethra.
  • to monitor patients who have undergone bladder cancer therapy, so as to timely diagnose any occurring relapse.

Urine Cytology can detect aggressive forms of cancer more easily. When cancer is small in size or progresses slowly, it is very likely that it cannot be detected by the Urine Cytology Test.

What preparation is needed for a Urine Cytology Test?

No special preparation is needed. The best sample is considered to be urine collected a while after the first morning urination. Get a sterile urine container from the pharmacy. There is no need to sanitize the genital area. Once the sample is obtained, you should take it straight to the cytology laboratory. In some cases, you may be asked to obtain more samples on different days. In some cases, the sample may be obtained by the physician with the use of a special catheter.

How is a Urine Cytology Test performed?

The sample will undergo special processing in the laboratory, and the Cytologist will examine it on the microscope.

How are the results of a Urine Cytology Test interpreted?

Every laboratory has its own way to describe the results of a Urine Cytology Test. The following terms are commonly used:

  • ‘Unsatisfactory specimen’. This may mean that the cells found in the urine specimen are not enough. You may need to repeat the cellular urine test.
  • ‘Negative test’. This indicates that no cancer cells were found in the urine specimen.
  • ‘Atypical cells’. This indicates that cells with some abnormalities were found in the urine specimen.  Although they are not normal cells, they do not necessarily have characteristic features so as to be considered cancerous.
  • ‘Suspicious cells’. This term may indicate that cells detected in the urine might be cancerous.
  • ‘Positive test’. No cancer cells were found in the urine.

A negative test cannot rule out the likelihood of cancer in the urinary tract. Should there be indications, your physician will recommend you to undergo further screening imaging tests, such as CT scan, Cystoscopy etc.