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What is Urine Cytology?

Urine cytology is a test to screen a patient’s urine for cancer cells. This is one of many tools used to diagnose cancers in the urinary tract, including bladder, kidney, prostate, ureter and urethra cancers.

A urine cytology test alone can't diagnose cancer.

If abnormal or cancerous cells are found with this test, your doctor will likely ask for more tests. A cystoscopy and a computerized tomography (CT) scan may be recommended next.

What to Expect

To prepare for this test, males must wipe the head of their penis with a sterile wipe. Females should use a sterile wipe or soapy water to wash and rinse the vaginal area. It can be done in the bathroom of your doctor’s office. Any urine, except the first of the day, can be used.

To get a clean sample, you should first allow a small amount of urine to fall into the toilet. Then, in a sterile container, collect about three to six ounces. The container can be removed from the urine stream after enough is collected. You would then give the sample to your health care provider for testing.

If your urine must be collected with a catheter, there could be a risk of urinary tract infection. Your health care team should take extra care to prevent infections in this case.

The urine sample will be sent to a lab where a pathologist will evaluate it. The pathologist will look for signs of cancer.

Ask your doctor when you can expect to learn the test’s results.

More Information

  • Why do you think this test will help me?
  • How accurate are the test results?
  • How long will I have to wait until I learn the test results?
  • What other tests will I need?
  • If a problem is found, what are my next-steps?