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My HealtheVet VA Cytology

Cytology is the use of microscopes to examine single cells or small groups of cells. This test is different from a biopsy, which examines pieces of tissue. The test may be done to look for cancers and precancerous changes in the cells. It may also be used to look for viral infections in cells.

Cytology tests are used in one of two ways:

  1. Screening - to determine if you have a certain disease even before you have symptoms

  2. Diagnosing - used if you have signs, symptoms, or some other reason to think a disease may be present

Cytology specimens can be collected from different parts of the body. Any fluid from your body can be sent for Cytology examination. This can include but is not limited to your nasal, throat, eye, ear, genital, urine, fecal, wounds, blood, or spinal fluid. For example:

  • Pap Smear (Cervix)

  • Sputum Cytology

  • Urine Cytology

  • Plural Fluid (fluid around the lungs)

  • Spinal Fluid

  • Gastric/Esophageal Brushings and Washings

  • Oral Cytology

  • Cytology examination from other body fluids

Your laboratory test results provide information that gives your health care team clues to possible health problems. Results may show other tests are needed to help make a diagnosis or guide change to your treatment. Cytology tests are considered a part of monitoring your overall health.

Using your VA Cytology lab test results to partner with your health care team may help you take charge of your health. Use it to better understand your health and learn ways to improve your health.

General Information

Some information that comes from your VA health record may not be presented right away in My HealtheVet or your VA Blue Button. This is because your information may first need to be reviewed and signed by members of your VA health care team. Also, if needed, this gives your provider time to discuss your results with you before you view them in My HealtheVet.

VA Pathology Reports, which includes Cytology are available 36 hours after they have been completed. Some studies done at a non-VA facility may not be available or they may not necessarily include an interpretation. If you have any questions about your information please visit the Frequently Asked Questions or contact your VA health care team.

  1. VA Cytology is a feature of the My HealtheVet Personal Health Record, found under the VA Blue Button section. Here VA patients can view the Cytology test they had done and the results. This lab information comes from the Veteran's VA health record.

    To view your results you must:

    • Be a Veteran enrolled at a VA health care facility

    • Be registered as a VA Patient in My HealtheVet

    • Have an upgraded Premium* My HealtheVet account

    *To get a My HealtheVet Premium account, you will need to go through authentication. This is a process by which VA verifies a Veterans' identity before allowing access to your VA health record. To learn more, go to: Upgrading your My HealtheVet account through In-Person or Online Authentication.

  2. Use the VA Blue Button to view, print, or download your VA Cytology lab results. It can be shared with your caregiver and/or non-VA provider. This can help them better understand your health.

  3. Hold Periods for VA information

  4. If you have questions regarding your VA Cytology test results, talk with your VA health care team by phone, by sending a Secure Message from My HealtheVet, or during an upcoming VA appointment. You can also visit the VA Cytology Frequently Asked Questions. This site has questions and answers that may help you understand more about the feature.

VA Cytology is only one type of lab test. Other types of VA lab tests may include Chemistry/Hematology, Pathology, Microbiology, and Electron Microscopy.


The following sites can help you better understand the many lab tests that are part of routine health care maintenance:

  • Lab Tests Online

  • Medline Plus: Laboratory tests are often part of a routine checkup to look for changes in your health. Start here to learn more.

For facts about lab tests and how to understand the results, visit:

  • Cytology: Provides an overview about the different cytology test types

  • Reference Ranges and What They Mean: Test results are based on a reference range. This site can help you understand a reference range. It talks about why test results and references ranges take into account each person's health condition

  • How Reliable is Laboratory Testing?: The health care team uses lab tests to make decisions about your health and health care. This website helps you better understand the importance of reliable lab testing.

  • Test Preparation: Your Role: You are one of the most important factors in determining the accuracy and reliability of your laboratory test. This site briefly explains your role as the patient and how you can prepare for each lab tests.

Updated August 12, 2021