cytology examines a sample of sputum (mucus) under a microscope to determine
whether abnormal cells are present. Sputum is not the same as saliva. Sputum is
produced in the lungs and in the airways leading to the lungs. Sputum has some
normal lung cells in it. See a picture of the
lungs' airways .
Sputum cytology may be done to help detect
certain noncancerous lung conditions. It may also be done when
lung cancer is suspected.
A sputum sample
may be collected:
- By a person coughing up mucus.
breathing in a saltwater (saline) mist and then coughing.
bronchoscopy, which uses a bronchoscope to look at the
throat and airway.
Why It Is Done
Sputum cytology is done to
- Lung cancer. But sputum cytology is not used as a
screening test for people at risk for developing lung cancer, such as
- Noncancerous lung conditions, such as
pneumonia or inflammatory diseases,
tuberculosis, or the buildup of asbestos fibers in the
How To Prepare
Home or office sample
No special preparation is
required if the sputum sample is to be collected at home or in your doctor's
Before you have a bronchoscopy
to collect a sputum sample, tell your doctor if you:
For a bronchoscopy, you will also be asked to sign a
consent form. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the
need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
Your doctor will tell you how soon
before the procedure to stop eating and drinking. Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, please do so using only a sip of water.
Arrange to have someone drive you home after the