New urine test a breakthrough for prostate cancer researchers

BREAKTHROUGH: The new Prostate Urine Risk test could change the face of prostate cancer testing.
BREAKTHROUGH: The new Prostate Urine Risk test could change the face of prostate cancer testing.

A NEW urine test which diagnoses aggressive prostate cancer can predict whether treatment is needed up to five years earlier than standard clinical tests.

The test - called Prostate Urine Risk (PUR), has been developed by researchers from the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The experimental test has been developed with the help of funds from the Movember Foundation and also identifies men who are up to eight times less likely to require treatment within five years of diagnosis.

Researchers hope the breakthrough could help many men who are deemed to be low risk to avoid unnecessary initial biopsies and invasive follow ups.

Lead author and PhD student Shea Connell said current testing assessed disease using a PSA blood test, prostate biopsy and MRI.

But he said up to 75 per cent of men with raised PSA levels tested negative for prostate cancer on biopsy and 15 per cent of patients who did not have a raised PSA were found to have prostate cancer.

"A policy of 'active surveillance' has been developed as a way to combat this uncertainty, but it requires invasive follow ups and constant reminders that a patient has a cancer with a certain unnatural history," he said.

"This results in up to 50 per cent of men on active surveillance self-electing for treatment - whether they need it, or not."

The research team developed the test using machine learning which looked at gene expression in samples collected from 537 men.

The team found a combination of 35 different genes which could be used to produce PUR risk signatures by examining the cell-free expression of 167 genes.

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