Microscopic examination of the cells in sputum allows for identification of the presence of abnormal cells due to illness or diseases such as cancer. Sputum cytology is not very specific, since the tumor may not be releasing cells into the respiratory system, and this test has mostly been replaced with a lung biopsy. Sputum cytology is usually only used for people who have a cough that is producing sputum, with an abnormal chest X-ray along with no findings with bronchoscopy; and is also used to monitor the status of smokers with abnormal lung changes seen during prior exams.
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