A new test is being described as the biggest breakthrough in the diagnosis of prostate cancer in 25 years.
We could be just months away from seeing the new cheap, easy – and most importantly accurate – test rolled out across UK surgeries.
The urine test, which also shows doctors the severity of the cancer, is set to cost £10 a patient and is twice as accurate as the current blood test.
The blood test method is not always reliable, meaning that many patients are forced to endure unnecessary tests and treatments such as biopsies, as well as pain and worry.
Other times the blood test failed to find the cancer, giving it time to grow and spread, and making it harder to treat.
The new test can reliably diagnose prostate cancer as well as tell the size of the tumour – without the need for a rectal examination.
In the trials the test successfully detected around 70% of prostate cancers.
It may mean that older men can be screened for the disease and successfully treated, the way older women are screened for breast cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, killing nearly 11,000 people a year.
In the past spotting the cancer has often proved a challenge. But this new test could put an end to that.
Tim Sharp, of the Prostate Project, which part-funded the research, said: ‘This is potentially the most exciting development in the diagnosis of prostate cancer for 25 years.’
The new test uses a urine sample, doing away with the need for needles. It detects a protein (EN2) in the urine. EN2 is not made by healthy people but is a by-product of tumours.
Inventor Hardev Pandha, a professor of medical oncology, said: ‘This new test could lead to faster detection that could save hundreds of lives and also offers the potential for huge cost savings.’