This is the first of 2 articles that summarize the findings of the International Consensus Panel on cytology and bladder tumor markers. The objectives of our panel were to reach a consensus on the areas where markers are needed, to define the attributes of an ideal tumor marker, and to identify which marker(s) would be suitable for diagnosis and/or surveillance of bladder cancer. Our panel consisted of urologists and researchers from Europe, Asia, and the United States who reviewed original articles, reviews, and book chapters on individual bladder tumor markers published in the English language mainly using the PubMed search engine. Panel members also met during 3 international meetings to write recommendations regarding bladder tumor markers. The panel found that the most practical use of noninvasive tests is to monitor bladder cancer recurrence, thereby reducing the number of surveillance cystoscopies performed each year. Markers also may be useful in the screening of high-risk individuals for early detection of bladder cancer. However, more prospective studies are needed to strengthen this argument. Case-control and cohort studies show that several markers have a higher sensitivity to detect bladder cancer. However, cytology is the superior marker in terms of specificity, although some markers in limited numbers of studies have shown specificity equivalent to that of cytology. Our panel believes that several bladder tumor markers are more accurate in detecting bladder cancer than prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is in detecting prostate cancer. However, bladder tumor markers are held to a higher standard than PSA. Therefore, use of bladder tumor markers in the management of patients with bladder cancer will require the willingness of both urologists and clinicians to accept them.
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