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Men may soon be able to take a prostate cancer test without going to the clinic or undergoing an uncomfortable rectal examination. Researchers created a simple urine test that requires only taking samples at home.
The team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said the new Prostate Urine Risk (PUR) test could diagnose even aggressive prostate cancer. It also allows doctors to determine whether patients will require treatment in the future.
“The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a physical examination known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), an MRI scan or a biopsy,” Jeremy Clark, lead researcher from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said in a statement. “We developed the PUR test, which looks at gene expression in urine samples and provides vital information about whether a cancer is aggressive or ‘low risk.'”
For the test, men must take samples from their first urination of the day. Researchers said the first fluid contains the highest and more consistent biomarker levels from the prostate.
The team analyzed the accuracy of the PUR test with 14 participants. Researchers compared the results of urine samples taken first thing in the morning with samples collected after a digital rectal examination.
The results, published in the journal BioTechniques, showed that the at-home approach biomarkers for prostate cancer “much more clearly” than after a rectal examination, according to Clark. The participants also described PUR as “preferable” compared to other methods.
Clark said the PUR test accurately predicts aggressive prostate cancer and the required treatments. This will allow at-risk men to only be retested every two to three years.
“Using our at home test could in future revolutionize how those on ‘active surveillance’ are monitored for disease progression, with men only having to visit the clinic for a positive urine result,” Clark pointed out. “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.”
Researchers hope the simple urine test would guide future efforts to develop new home-collection tests for bladder or kidney cancer.