Sensitivity and specificity of NMP-22, telomerase, and BTA in the detection of human bladder cancer

Urology. 1998 Sep;52(3):398-402. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(98)00219-2.


Objectives: The recent introduction of novel molecular markers into clinical urology has created a need to evaluate the efficacy and utility of these potential markers. The ideal assay for bladder cancer should be noninvasive, sensitive, specific, and cost-effective. We compared the Matritech nuclear maxtrix protein (NMP)-22 assay, telomerase activity, and the Bard bladder tumor antigen (BTA) assay for the detection of human bladder cancer.

Methods: A single voided urine sample was obtained from patients with hematuria without bladder cancer and from patients with known bladder cancer before any treatment. Approximately 50 to 100 mL of voided urine sample was collected and aliquotted for the various assays. The results were compared to single cytologic results and ultimately to pathologic findings.

Results: In 47 patients with bladder cancer, the overall sensitivity was 81% for NMP-22, 80% for telomerase, 40% for BTA, and 40% for cytology. For Ta tumors (n = 31), sensitivity was 81% for NMP-22, 70% for telomerase, 32% for BTA, and 26% for cytology. For T1 or higher stage tumors (n = 13), sensitivity was 82% for NMP-22, 91% for telomerase, 64% for BTA, and 64% for cytology. The remaining 3 patients had carcinoma in situ (CIS). When tumors were stratified by tumor grade, grade I tumors (n = 16) were detected at 69% with NMP-22, 65% with telomerase, 13% with BTA, and 6% with cytology. Grade II tumors (n = 14) were detected at 86% with NMP-22, 72% with telomerase, 36% with BTA, and 36% with cytology. Grade III tumors (n = 14) were detected at 93% with NMP-22, 93% with telomerase, 79% with BTA, and 79% with cytology. Patients with CIS (n = 3) were detected at 67% with NMP-22, 100% with telomerase, 33% with BTA, and 67% with cytology. In 30 patients with hematuria but without bladder cancer, the overall specificity of the assays was 77% for NMP-22, 80% for telomerase, 73% for BTA, and 94% for cytology.

Conclusions: In the population tested, NMP-22 and the telomerase assays gave similar sensitivity and specificity for the detection of bladder cancer, and appear to offer a greater sensitivity than the BTA assay and/or conventional cytology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / urine
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Proteins / urine*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Telomerase / urine*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / urine


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • bladder tumor-associated antigen
  • nuclear matrix protein 22
  • Telomerase