Sanquin Diagnostic Services nominated for VGZ Sensible Care Award

Every year, more than 6,600 people in the Netherlands are diagnosed with bladder cancer. This puts bladder cancer in fifth place of the most common types of cancer. Fortunately, bladder cancer is treatable in many cases, but the risk of tumors recurring is fairly high, up to 60%.

Patients remain under intensive monitoring after treatment, with check-ups several times a year to see if the cancer is still gone. For patients, this is demanding every time and the examination required for this is also very burdensome. With the Bladder EpiCheck (BE) test, which is performed by Sanquin Diagnostic Services, the check-up is a whole lot less stressful. Health insurer VGZ has nominated this test for the Samen Voorop Award, in the section 'Sensible Care'. Will you vote for the EpiCheck before 12 June?

Normally patients have to visit the hospital up to four times a year to undergo a cystoscopy. This is an unpleasant examination in which a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the urethra and led to the bladder. It's stressful for the patient and expensive on top of that. Sanquin Diagnostic Services, together with OLVG Lab B.V., developed a much more patient-friendly way to investigate whether someone's bladder cancer has returned with the Bladder EpiCheck. This joint service is supported by MML Medical who is the supplier of the BE test which is produced in Israel.

DNA test

The Bladder EpiCheck makes it easy to look in the urine for changes in DNA. These changes may indicate the recurrence of bladder cancer. If no changes in DNA are detected, additional testing is not needed until the next checkpoint. If changes are observed, additional testing is required.

The tests are performed by Sanquin's Molecular Diagnostics laboratory. For the patient and doctor, it is especially important to check whether the cancer has not returned. But what's extra nice about this test is that it also indicates, via a software algorithm, if there is something wrong with the test material, and what it is then. Too little DNA, for example. Or if the DNA is not properly prepared for analysis. Changes in the DNA are sensitively detected so that rapid action can be taken. In that case, follow-up testing is necessary. In short, the BE test offers a solution; fewer hospital visits, relief for the healthcare system and above all less burden for the patient.

Samen Voorop Award

For this innovation the Bladder EpiCheck has now been nominated by VGZ for the Samen Voorop Award, in the category 'Sensible Care'. This Award is presented to initiatives that contribute to a healthier Netherlands with future-proof care. Of course, we still have to win the prize! Click here to vote (the EpiCheck was submitted by RadboudUMC, one of the collaborating parties), or watch the accompanying video for more information (in Dutch).

Bladder cancer in figures

More than 6,600

In the Netherlands, each year more than 6,600 patients are diagnosed with bladder cancer.

4 times as many

Bladder cancer is four times more common in men than in women.


Three quarters of bladder cancer tumors are "non-muscle-invasive". This means they do not grow into the deeper layers of the bladder. For these types of tumors, the BE test can be used.


Non-muscle-invasive tumors are treatable. But the chance of them coming back is quite high, up to 60%. 


If the Bladder EpiCheck is negative, then there is a 99% chance that the patient does not have a dangerous tumor.

3 times more likely

Smokers are three times more likely to get bladder cancer than non-smokers.


Bladder tumors are benign in about 2-3%; then they are called polyps.


After treatment for bladder cancer, patients are followed for an extended period. The first period is frequent, which means that patients undergo a cystoscopy every time. The urologists at RadboudUMC now have a monitoring schedule in which they alternate the cystoscopy and BE test.