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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
My family memeber had a urine culture done and it said it had a few Squamous Epithelial Cells. What is that? Is it cancer? Please explain or where can I find out more information. Thank you
Epithelial cells in the urine seen during a standard urinalysis are normal not malignant cells most of the time. I see epithelial cells in the urines I look at under the microscope very commonly and I interpret their presence as normal cells that have exfoliated from the bladder mucosa [the cells that line the bladder], to thus be a normal feature seen in the urinalysis. As most people who have a urinalysis do not have bladder cancer I feel epithelial cells are present in normal patients. I suppose that purely by chance one could have a patient with bladder cancer have bladder cancer cells exfoliate into the urine and be seen there. IF by chance this happened to your relative the epithelial cells might actually be malignant and if I saw such a patient I would be unable to identify these cells as cancer if I saw them in the urine. You should note that the way urologists diagnose bladder cancer is by performing a cystoscopy, obtaining a ct scan and by asking the lab to perform urine cytology [a urine test specifically done to try to diagnose bladder cancer].
R Bruce Bracken, MD
Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati