Bladder cancer detection, monitoring, and prevention represent major problems that could be addressed with sensitive and specific biomarkers. The antigen recognized by the DD23 antibody, previously developed against a tumor-related antigen, was partially biochemically characterized, and its sensitivity and specificity in cancer detection and recurrence monitoring was evaluated. Quantitative fluorescence image analysis was used to quantify antigen content in exfoliated urothelial cells in a cross-section of patients with bladder cancers of all grades and stages and control populations. The antigen was found in tumor cells as well as normal-appearing urothelial cells, suggesting it represents a marker induced by the altered growth factor environment of a cancer-containing bladder. When used as a quantitative marker, the sensitivity for bladder cancer detection was 85%, and the specificity was 95%. No significant difference was seen between symptomatic and asymptomatic control populations, including patients with previous bladder cancers in the absence of a recurrence. In bladder cancer recurrence monitoring, results were consistently negative until just before detection of a recurrence. The biomarker reflects a "field effect" that occurs very late in tumorigenesis and seems to represent events common to most cancers involving the genitourinary tract. Western blotting showed the antibody recognized a dimeric protein. DD23 quantification in single cells may be particularly useful in targeting cystoscopic intervention for recurrence monitoring and, because of its high specificity, could be a tool for bladder cancer screening in high-risk groups.

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