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Norwich scientists say home urine test could ‘revolutionise’ prostate cancer diagnosis

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed type of cancer for men Credit: ITV News Anglia

Scientists at the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital have been developing a new prostate cancer test that they say could ‘revolutionise’ diagnoses.

Researchers say the test will be more sensitive than current methods and will be in the form of a collection kit that will enable people to do a urine test in the comfort of their own home.

It will be used for men who are suspected of having prostate cancer. It's able to pick up how aggressive the disease is and at what point men will need treatment, as well as ruling out those who do not have the disease.

"Using our at-home test could in future revolutionise how those on active surveillance are monitored for disease progression, with men only having to visit the clinic for a positive urine result.

This is in contrast to the current situation where men are recalled to the clinic every six to 12 months for painful and expensive biopsies."

– Dr Jeremy Clark, Lead Researcher from UEA's Norwich Medical School
Picture of what a prostate cancer cell looks like under a microscope Credit: ITV News Anglia

Around 48,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK, and more than 11,000 die from it. Experts behind the Prostate Urine Risk (PUR) test say the new development is an important step towards getting more men tested.

"The PUR test looks at gene expression in urine samples and provides vital information about whether a cancer is aggressive or 'low risk'.

It means that men would not have to undergo a digital rectal examination, so it would be much less stressful and should result in a lot more patients being tested."

– Dr Jeremy Clark, Lead Researcher from UEA's Norwich Medical School

The new test has been trialled on a small group of men already:

"We found that urine samples taken at home showed the biomarkers for prostate cancer much more clearly than after a rectal examination.

And feedback from the participants showed that the at-home test was preferable."

– Dr Jeremy Clark, Lead Researcher from UEA's Norwich Medical School

The charities Prostate Cancer UK and Movember have announced that they have awarded funding to the team at UEA to test this in a much larger group of men.

"This new test is early in its development, but has the potential to offer a simple, non-invasive way of predicting aggressive prostate cancer without the need for men to attend a clinic.

We hope that this research will bring us a step closer to making a more accurate and earlier diagnosis a reality for men with prostate cancer."

– Simon Grieveson, Head of Research Funding at the Prostate Cancer UK

Researchers say they hope their findings will help to pioneer the development of other at-home collection tests in the future, including for bladder and kidney cancer.