New prostate test is a wee bit easier

27/11/19 . News

There's been a breakthrough in research into prostate cancer testing.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia suggest that a simple morning urine specimen, collected by the man at home, could be a far more accurate test for prostate cancer than any of the more complicated tests currently available.

Current tests include an unreliable blood test (the PSA test) or the digital rectal examination (nothing more or less than a doctor's finger up the bottom to manually inspect the prostate). The new PUR test (Prostate Urine Risk) is easier than either of these for both the man and the health service. It may also enable better assessment of how aggressive a cancer is likely to be.

Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Clark, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, says: 'Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Because the prostate is constantly secreting, the collection of urine from men’s first urination of the day means that the biomarker levels from the prostate are much higher and more consistent, so this is a great improvement. Being able to simply provide a urine sample at home and post a sample off for analysis could really revolutionise diagnosis.'

Predictive testing

The PUR test apparently predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than current methods. Clark explains: 'Prostate cancer 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. Because the PUR test accurately predicts aggressive prostate cancer, and predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods – it means that a negative test could enable men to only be retested every two to three years, relieving stress to the patient and reducing hospital workload.'

The researchers are now to be funded for the next stage of development of the At-Home collection PUR test by Movember and Prostate Cancer UK. They hope that the PUR test could be used in hospitals in five years. 

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