Urine markers for detection and surveillance of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer

Eur Urol. 2011 Sep;60(3):484-92. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2011.05.053. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Context: Bladder cancer diagnosis and surveillance includes cystoscopy and cytology. The limitation of urinary cytology is its low sensitivity for low-grade recurrences. As of now, six urine markers are commercially available to complement cystoscopy in the detection of bladder cancer. Several promising tests are under investigation.

Objective: In this nonsystematic review, we summarize the existing data on commercially available and promising investigational urine markers for the detection of bladder cancer.

Evidence acquisition: A PubMed search was carried out. We reviewed the recent literature on urine-based markers for bladder cancer. Articles were considered between 1997 and 2011. Older studies were included selectively if historically relevant.

Evidence synthesis: Although different studies have shown the superiority of urine markers regarding sensitivity for bladder cancer detection as compared with cytology, none of these tests is ideal and can be recommended unrestrictedly.

Conclusions: Urine markers have been studied extensively to help diagnose bladder cancer and thereby decrease the need for cystoscopy. However, no marker is available at present that can sufficiently warrant this. Several urinary markers have higher but still insufficient sensitivity compared with cytology. Urinary cytology or markers cannot safely replace cystoscopy in this setting. To identify an optimal marker that can delay cystoscopy in the diagnosis of bladder cancer, large prospective and standardized studies are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine*
  • Cystoscopy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / urine*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic