Screening for bladder cancer: Rationale, limitations, whom to target, and perspectives

Stéphane Larré, James W.F. Catto, Michael S. Cookson, Edward M. Messing, Shahrokh F. Shariat, Mark S. Soloway, Robert S. Svatek, Yair Lotan, Alexandre R. Zlotta, H. Barton Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Context: Bladder cancer (BCa) is the fourth most common cancer in men. Survival from the disease has not improved in the last 25 yr. Population-based screening theoretically provides the best opportunity to improve the outcomes of aggressive BCa. Objective: To review the current literature regarding the usefulness and feasibility of screening for bladder cancer. Evidence acquisition: We conducted a nonsystematic review restricted to English using the keywords urinary bladder neoplasms, mass screening, mandatory testing, and early detection of cancer. We retrieved 184 articles and selected 22. Evidence synthesis: There was no level 1 evidence (obtained from a randomised controlled trial [RCT]) addressing the impact of screening on BCa survival or tumour downstaging. No study assessed the diagnostic performance of urinary markers in the context of screening. Two case-control series suggested a benefit of screening on survival, and a third found a nonsignificant beneficial trend in favour of screening. Two studies suggested downstaging of BCa at diagnosis. Other reports concluded that most cancers detected with screening were of low grade and that current urinary testing cannot detect all tumours. Screening is likely to be of benefit in high-risk populations using cost-efficient high-performing urinary biomarkers. There was insufficient evidence to define an efficient screening protocol. Conclusions: Although BCa screening is theoretically feasible in a high-risk population, there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend it. This is due to insufficient data to define an efficient screening protocol with selection of an appropriate population and the lack of accurate and cost-effective urinary markers able to discriminate low-risk from high-risk cancers. Major improvements are needed in the evaluation of urinary biomarkers before evaluation in a RCT can be achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1058
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Early detection of cancer bladder neoplasms
  • Mandatory testing
  • Mass screening
  • Review
  • Urinary bladder neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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