New publication: A Genomic Urine Assay for Surveillance of Patients with Bladder Cancer Treated with Radiotherapy

Background: Patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) who receive radiotherapy with curative intent are followed by imaging, cystoscopy, and urine cytology. However, interpretation of cytology and cystoscopy is hampered by the impact of ionizing radiation on cells.

Objective: To assess the diagnostic performance of a genomic urine assay to detect urinary tract recurrences in patients with MIBC treated by (chemo)radiation.

Design setting and participants: Patients with nonmetastatic MIBC who underwent (chemo)radiation with curative intent from 2016 to 2020 were prospectively included. Follow-up consisted of cystoscopy and upper tract imaging. Prior to cystoscopy, a urine sample was analyzed to assess mutations in the genes FGFR3HRAS, and TERT and methylation of OTX1TWIST1, and ONECUT2. The treating physician was blinded for the assay result.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: The primary endpoint was a urinary tract recurrence. Cross-sectional sensitivity, specificity, and negative predictive value (NPV) were analyzed using a previously developed logistic regression model for the detection of bladder cancer with this assay. The secondary endpoint was the risk of a future urinary tract recurrence following a positive test and negative cystoscopy/imaging, using a time-dependent Cox proportional hazard analysis.

Results and limitations: A total of 143 patients were included, and 503 urine samples were analyzed. The median study duration was 20 mo (interquartile range [IQR] 10-33), and the median time to a recurrence was 16 mo (IQR 12-26). In 27 patients, 32 urinary tract recurrences were diagnosed, including three upper tract tumors. Of 32 recurrences, 18 (56%) had a concomitant urine test available. The diagnostic model had an area under the curve of 0.80 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.69-0.90) with corresponding sensitivity, specificity, and NPV of 78 (95% CI 52-94), 77% (95% CI 73-81), and 99% (95% CI 97-100). When taking into account the anticipatory effect of the test, 28/32 (88%) recurrences were detected. A Cox regression analysis showed a hazard ratio of 14.8 for the development of a future recurrence (p < 0.001). A major limitation was the lack of a concomitant urine test result in 14/32 (44%) recurrences.

Conclusions: A genomic urine assay detected urinary tract recurrences after (chemo)radiation in patients with MIBC, and a positive test was strongly associated with future recurrences. Although validation in a large cohort is warranted, the test has the potential to limit frequent cystoscopies.

Patient summary: Radiotherapy is a bladder-sparing treatment in patients with bladder cancer. After treatment, these patients undergo visual inspection of the bladder by cystoscopy to detect possible recurrences. However, interpretation of cystoscopy is difficult due to the effects of radiation on the bladder lining. Hence, we analyzed the diagnostic value of a molecular urine test to detect recurrent disease in bladder cancer patients treated by radiotherapy, and we showed that the urine test has the potential to limit the number of cystoscopies.


Keywords: Biological assay; Bladder cancer; Cytology; Progression; Radiation therapy; Recurrence; Urine specimen.


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Mar 18, 2024