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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical and Translational Imaging, Volume 6, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 257-269.

The final publication is available at Springer via


Purpose: Early and accurate diagnosis of Bladder cancer (BCa) will contribute extensively to the management of the disease. The purpose of this review was to briefly describe the conventional imaging methods and other novel imaging modalities used for early detection of BCa and outline their pros and cons.

Methods: Literature search was performed on Pubmed, PMC, and Google scholar for the period of January 2014 to February 2018 and using such words as "bladder cancer, bladder tumor, bladder cancer detection, diagnosis and imaging".

Results: A total of 81 published papers were retrieved and are included in the review. For patients with hematuria and suspected of BCa, cystoscopy and CT are most commonly recommended. Ultrasonography, MRI, PET/CT using 18F-FDG or 11C-choline and recently PET/MRI using 18F-FDG also play a prominent role in detection of BCa.

Conclusion: For initial diagnosis of BCa, cystoscopy is generally performed. However, cystoscopy can not accurately detect carcinoma insitu (CIS) and can not distinguish benign masses from malignant lesions. CT is used in two modes, CT and computed tomographic urography (CTU), both for dignosis and staging of BCa. However, they cannot differentiate T1 and T2 BCa. MRI is performed to diagnose invasive BCa and can differentiate muscle invasive bladder carcinoma (MIBC) from non-muscle invasive bladder carcinoma (NMIBC). However, CT and MRI have low sensitivity for nodal staging. For nodal staging PET/CT is preferred. PET/MRI provides better differentiation of normal and pathologic structures as compared with PET/CT. Nonetheless none of the approaches can address all issues related for the management of BCa. Novel imaging methods that target specific biomarkers, image BCa early and accurately, and stage the disease are warranted.

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