New 'holy grail' prostate cancer test unveiled by Norwich researchers
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Researchers in Norwich hope a test for prostate cancer which can be conducted at home could revolutionise diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The test, pioneered by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), involves collecting a urine sample and can measure the aggressiveness of prostate cancer as well as predicting much earlier than standard methods whether patients will require treatment.
The scientists' most recent study found the PUR (prostate urine risk) test could be performed on samples collected at home - removing the need for men to visit a clinic to provide a sample or undergo an uncomfortable rectal exam.
A trial of the at-home collection kits, involving 14 men, also found that the urine samples provided much clearer "biomarkers" for prostate cancer than samples collected from digital rectal examinations.
Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Clark, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man's lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men."
He added: "Being able to simply provide a urine sample at home and post a sample off for analysis could really revolutionise diagnosis."
Robert Mills, consultant surgeon in urology at the NNUH, said: "This is a very exciting development as this test gives us the possibility of differentiating those who do from those who do not have prostate cancer so avoiding putting a lot of men through unnecessary investigations."
Ray Cossey, trustee of the Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group, described the new test as the "holy grail" of prostate cancer diagnosis.
"There will be men who had treatment or had their prostates removed as a precaution, but probably didn't need to," he said.
"This test will be able to differentiate between the 'pussy cat' form of the cancer and the 'tiger' form which comes to bite you in the backside, so if it's proving to be successful that is fantastic."
The research team say their findings could also help pioneer the development of home-collection tests for bladder or kidney cancer.