A test under development for prostate cancer detection can now use urine samples collected at home, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
Scientists pioneered the test which diagnoses aggressive prostate cancer and predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.
Their latest study shows how the ‘PUR’ test (Prostate Urine Risk) could be performed on samples collected at home, so men don’t have to come into the clinic to provide a urine sample, or have to undergo an uncomfortable rectal examination.
This is an important step forward, because the first urination of the day provides biomarker levels from the prostate that are much higher and more consistent. And the research team hope that the introduction of the at-home collection kit could revolutionise diagnosis of the disease.
The project’s lead researcher, Dr Jeremy Clark, said: “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.
“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. 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’.”
“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. It means that men would not have to undergo a digital rectal examination, so it would be much less stressful and should result in a lot more patients being tested.”
The research team provided 14 participants with a kit and instructions. They then compared the results of their home urine samples, taken first thing in the morning, with samples collected after a digital rectal examination.
It was found that the urine samples taken at home showed the biomarkers for prostate cancer much more clearly than after a rectal examination. And feedback from the participants showed that the at home test was preferable.
The research team say that their findings could also help pioneer the development of home-collection tests for bladder or kidney cancer.