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Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Sep 1;19(17):4760-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-3276. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

A 3-plex methylation assay combined with the FGFR3 mutation assay sensitively detects recurrent bladder cancer in voided urine.

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Department of Pathology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



DNA methylation is associated with bladder cancer and these modifications could serve as useful biomarkers. FGFR3 mutations are present in 60% to 70% of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Low-grade bladder cancer recurs in more than 50% of patients. The aim of this study is to determine the sensitivity and specificity of a urine assay for the diagnosis of recurrences in patients with a previous primary NMIBC G1/G2 by using cystoscopy as the reference standard.


We selected eight CpG islands (CGI) methylated in bladder cancer from our earlier genome-wide study. Sensitivity of the CGIs for recurrences detection was investigated on a test set of 101 preTUR urines. Specificity was determined on 70 urines from healthy males aged more than 50 years. A 3-plex assay for the best combination was developed and validated on an independent set of 95 preTUR, recurrence free, and nonmalignant urines (n=130).


The 3-plex assay identified recurrent bladder cancer in voided urine with a sensitivity of 74% in the validation set. In combination with the FGFR3 mutation assay, a sensitivity of 79% was reached (specificity of 77%). Sensitivity of FGFR3 and cytology was 52% and 57%, respectively.


The combination of methylation and FGFR3 assays efficiently detects recurrent bladder cancer without the need for stratification of patients regarding methylation/mutation status of the primary tumor. We conclude that the sensitivity of this combination is in the same range as cystoscopy and paves the way for a subsequent study that investigates a modified surveillance protocol consisting of the urine test followed by cystoscopy only when the urine test is positive.

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