Urine test could reduce unnecessary prostate biopsies

27/04/21 . News

Researchers from the University of East Anglia have developed a new urine test for prostate cancer which also shows how aggressive the disease is.

Based on technology previously reported, the so-called ‘ExoGrail’ test could revolutionise how patients with suspected prostate cancer are risk-assessed. The research team say their new test could reduce the number of prostate biopsies carried out by 35%.

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.

'Over-diagnosis and overtreatment'

Lead researcher Dr Dan Brewer, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: 'While prostate cancer is responsible for a large proportion of all male cancer deaths, it is more commonly a disease men die with rather than from.

'Therefore, there is a desperate need for improvements in diagnosing and predicting outcomes for prostate cancer patients to minimise over-diagnosis and overtreatment whilst appropriately treating men with aggressive disease, especially if this can be done without taking an invasive biopsy. Invasive biopsies come at considerable economic, psychological and societal cost to patients and healthcare systems alike.'

The ExoGrail urine test combines two biomarker sources: measurements of a protein-marker called EN2 and the levels of gene expression of 10 genes related to prostate cancer risk. It builds on previously developed tests called PUR and ExoMeth.

Home urine test

Researchers are also trialling a new home urine-testing kit across the UK, Europe and Canada.

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