Scientists in the UK have developed a new prostate cancer urine test that could increase early diagnosis rates.
Prostate tumours generate a protein that is then secreted into the urine. The test, which looks for the protein, could be provided to patients within 18 months, the researchers have said.
It has been claimed that the test is twice as good at highlighting if a patient has prostate cancer as the current PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.
But it is still not clear if the test’s performance levels are high enough to be the basis of a national NHS screening programme, which is already conducted for breast, cervical and bowel cancers.
The frequent false results that are generated in the PSA test means that there is currently no NHS screening for prostate cancer.
The new test, developed at the University of Surrey in Guildford, relies on a protein called Engrailed-2 (EN2) which is important in the development of the human embryo.
Its production is normally switched off at birth, but scientists found it to be re-activated in prostate cancer.
Analysis of urine samples from 288 men with and without prostate cancer found the test was able to detect around 66% of cancers on first use.
Professor Hardev Pandha, whose team developed the test and has reported the findings in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, said: “In this study we showed that the new test was twice as good at finding prostate cancer as the standard PSA test.”