Modified nucleosides were recently presented as potential tumor markers for breast cancer. The patterns of the levels of urinary nucleosides are different for tumor bearing individuals and for healthy individuals. Thus, a powerful pattern recognition method is needed. Although backpropagation (BP) neural networks are becoming increasingly common in medical literature for pattern recognition, it has been shown that often-superior methods exist like learning vector quantization (LVQ) and support vector machines (SVM). The aim of this feasibility study is to get an indication of the performance of urinary nucleoside levels evaluated by LVQ in contrast to the evaluation the popular BP and SVM networks. Urine samples were collected from female breast cancer patients and from healthy females. Twelve different ribonucleosides were isolated and quantified by a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) procedure. LVQ, SVM and BP networks were trained and the performance was evaluated by the classification of the test sets into the categories "cancer" and "healthy". All methods showed a good classification with a sensitivity ranging from 58.8 to 70.6% at a specificity of 88.4-94.2% for the test patterns. Although the classification performance of all methods is comparable, the LVQ implementations are superior in terms of more qualitative features: the results of LVQ networks are more reproducible, as the initialization is deterministic. The LVQ networks can be trained by unbalanced sizes of the different classes. LVQ networks are fast during training, need only few parameters adjusted for training and can be retrained by patterns of "local individuals". As at least some of these features play an important role in an implementation into a medical decision support system, it is recommended to use LVQ for an extended study.