A simple non-invasive test of semen may in the future be used to diagnose prostate cancer, according to research published in the journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.
A team of scientists from Durham University and the US have perfected a means of measuring the wavelength of light passing through a diluted sample of prostate fluid.
This detects citrate, an indicator of prostate cancer that reduces sharply from a normal 50 to 200 millimoles to between two and 20 millimoles in men with the disease.
The three-minute test could replace the current standard procedure, which uses biopsy samples obtained by inserting a needle into the prostate gland.
At present, because the standard prostate specific antigen test can give false results, patients may either be wrongly diagnosed with the disease or it may be missed altogether.
And because there is no reliable test there is no national screening programme, which results in the deaths of 10,000 of the 35,000 diagnosed with the condition every year.