The £10 prostate test: New cancer check is twice as accurate – with no need for that embarrassing examination
- New urine test is twice as reliable as the existing blood test for the disease
- It also tells doctors how serious it is – and no need for rectal examination
- Prostate cancer kills nearly 11,000 British men every year
A cheap, easy and accurate test for prostate cancer could be in surgeries within months.
Studies show the new urine test to be twice as reliable as the existing blood test for detecting the disease – the most common cancer among British men.
It also tells doctors how serious the cancer is.
This means it should not only save lives but also spare men painful, embarrassing and unnecessary tests and treatments.
The new test – described as potentially the biggest breakthrough in prostate cancer diagnosis in 25 years – does not involve a rectal examination.
It is likely to cost as little as £10 a patient, and the price tag, combined with its accuracy and simplicity, could even lead to all older men being screened for the disease, as women are for breast cancer.
The test’s Surrey University creators have struck a deal with two companies and it is hoped it will be in doctors’ surgeries later this year. Private patients will be the first to benefit but NHS use could follow.
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.’
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, killing nearly 11,000 people a year, and doctors do not have a 100 per cent accurate way of spotting it.
The blood test routinely used measures levels of a protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA, but it is wrong more often than it is right. This means many men are subjected to the pain, worry and embarrassment of unnecessary biopsies. In other cases, fledgling cancers are missed until they have spread elsewhere in the body and are harder to treat.
The new test uses a urine sample, dispensing with the need for needles. It searches the urine for a protein called EN2, which is not made by healthy people but is pumped out by tumours.
In trials, it detected about 70 per cent of prostate cancers, making it twice as accurate as the PSA test.
But the test has a second advantage. Unlike PSA, the amount of EN2 in urine corresponds with the size of the tumour.
This is important because prostate cancer is not always life-threatening. It often grows slowly and does not always need to be treated straight away.
Many men with tumours that will do them little harm are subjected to surgery and radiotherapy, both of which carry a high risk of incontinence and impotence.
The new test uses a urine sample, dispensing with the need for needles. It searches the urine for a protein called EN2, which is not made by healthy people but is pumped out by tumours, and is 70 per cent reliable
Professor Pandha, who created the test with Dr Richard Morgan, added: ‘Our trials have shown that levels of EN2 accurately reflect the amount of cancer in the patient’s prostate gland.
‘Small prostate cancers do not require treatment and can be safely monitored; larger volume cancers require prompt treatment.
‘The EN2 test allows for the urologist to determine which option is best for the patient.’
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.’
Prostate Cancer UK said Professor Pandha’s results were encouraging but added that large-scale, long-term trials were needed.
Dr Peter FitzGerald, of Randox Laboratories, one of the two companies that will turn the research into a kit for use in doctors’ surgeries, said: ‘With prostate and bladder cancers being among the top ten common causes of cancer death, accurate diagnosis is incredibly important.’