When words matter: A "suspicious" urinary tract cytology diagnosis improves patient follow-up among nonurologists

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Urinary tract cytology (UTC) specimens diagnosed using high-risk indeterminate categories such as "atypical urothelial cells, cannot exclude high-grade urothelial carcinoma" (AUC-H) or "suspicious for high-grade urothelial carcinoma" (SHGUC) have a high rate of detection of high-grade urothelial carcinoma on subsequent biopsy. Although urologists are familiar with such terminology, it is unclear whether patients receive appropriate follow-up when UTC is ordered by nonurologists. In the current study, the authors investigated whether the use of AUC-H versus SHGUC altered patient management among nonurologists. METHODS: Specimens signed out as AUC-H or SHGUC were identified from the archives of the study institution, which included periods of time before the use of the standardized Johns Hopkins Hospital template, during use of the Johns Hopkins Hospital template, and after institution of The Paris System for Reporting Urinary Cytology. RESULTS: Approximately one-half of the specimens diagnosed as AUC-H were not investigated further when ordered by nonurologists. Patients with specimens diagnosed as AUC-H received fewer subsequent biopsies (14% vs 53%; P<.001) when the specimens were ordered by nonurologists versus urologists, despite having similar rates of high-grade urothelial carcinoma on follow-up biopsy (67% vs 66%). When specimens ordered by nonurologists were diagnosed as SHGUC, these patients received more follow-up (100%) compared with those whose specimens were diagnosed as AUC-H (44%; P<.001). Patients with specimens ordered by nonurologists also received more follow-up biopsies when these were diagnosed as suspicious (60%) compared with patients whose specimens were diagnosed as AUC-H (14%; P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Use of the word "suspicious" for the high-risk indeterminate category results in greater follow-up among nonurologists ordering UTC specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCancer cytopathology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Indeterminate
  • Suspicious
  • The Paris System for Reporting Urinary Cytology
  • Urinary tract cytology
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this