Atypical urothelial cells look abnormal under a microscope, explains Mayo Clinic. While some cancers cause atypical cells, other factors such as inflammation, infection and age also cause cells to appear abnormal. Doctors monitor abnormal cells to ensure they do not become more abnormal over time.
Doctors monitor atypical urothelial cells for signs of developing cancer, but a patient who has abnormal cells does not necessarily have cancer, notes Mayo Clinic. When doctors find abnormal cells, they sometimes do more tests and scans to find the source of the abnormality. If doctors find the source of the abnormality, they use treatments to reverse the atypical process. In some cases, doctors take a sample of the affected tissue to perform a biopsy. This procedure screens for cancer and other serious diseases.
Urothelial cells are part of the urothelium surrounding the urethra, bladder, prostate and pelvis, according to the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences. Bladder cancer is the most common form of cancer in this type of cell. Some screening tests show atypical cells when no serious illness is present. False positive results do not necessarily require treatment. Doctors consider the patient's medical history and risk factors to determine the cause of atypical cells. Some doctors ask patients who have a history of bladder cancer to do more than one test for atypical cells.