Cytology is microscopic examination and evaluation of cells from the body. Urine cytology is one such test where suspected abnormal cells are looked for from the collected specimen of urine. Urine cytology test is used mainly to diagnose bladder and other urinary tract cancers or precancerous conditions. The test can also help in detecting inflammatory disease of urinary tract as well as infection in urinary tract.
This test is the most established workup and non invasive method to diagnose bladder cancer. It is also used in people who have already been diagnosed with bladder cancer and are treated.In such cases, urine cytology can help in detecting recurrence of bladder malignancy.
When Is Urine Cytology Recommended?
The doctor usually recommends doing urine cytology test if the patient has complained of any of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained passage of blood in urine. In medical terminology it is called hematuria. Blood in urine is without pain.
- Pain in genital area or in the back.
- Constant burning during, before and after urination.
- Pain while passing urine.
- Increased frequency to urinate.
- Along with urinary complains, patient may also have weight loss, fatigue, mild fever, loss of appetite.
Urine cytology is a technique that is performed since many decades as a screening test to detect urothelial cancer in high risk groups of individuals such as those exposed to chemical carcinogens due to certain occupations, smokers etc.
Urine Cytology Collection Procedure
For urine cytology test, urine is the main material required for evaluation under the microscope. The procedure for collection is very simple. A morning mid stream sample of urine is required to be collected in a sterile jar or a tube that is mostly provided by the laboratory or the doctor.
Mid stream sample means, the first few milliliter of urine is passed in the toilet. Patient is advised to hold on for after he passes first few ml. He has to then urinate in the sterile jar till the desired level. The rest of the urine present in bladder that is not required may be voided out in toilet.
Patient may be given special cloth or tissue to clean the urethra and the genital area before collection of urine. It is done to prevent contamination of the urine while it flows. In some cases, a small tube called catheter is inserted in the urethra and up to the bladder. Urine passes from the bladder through this tube. It is collected in the sterile container when urine is passing from the catheter.
After collection, the container is sent for cytological examination and analysis in a pathological laboratory. The pathologist who is specialized in examination of body tissue looks for abnormal cells that might be indicating bladder cancer under the microscope. After examining, the pathologist will prepare the report of urine cytology. The final report may take one or two days. This may depend on laboratories.
Understanding The Urine Cytology Results
Different laboratories have different criteria while preparing their report. Therefore, patient has to ask their treating doctor, what the exact meaning of result is. Usually some common words that are used by most of the laboratories are as follows;
- Negative: It means no malignant cells are detected in the urine sample.
- Atypical: It means that there is some abnormality detected in the cells, but cancer cannot be established. These atypical cells can be due to any other reason.
- Positive: It means that cancer cells are detected in urine cytology. It is suggestive of bladder cancer or cancer of kidney, or urethra.
A positive urine cytology test cannot be relied as diagnostic for bladder cancer. Other additional tests and markers are necessary to confirm the diagnosis.