A new study based in the United Kingdom recently revealed a new urine test that may be able to detect prostate cancer in men much earlier. The test can also determine if the prostate cancer needs quick therapy or can be left untreated but monitored.
New Test vs. Old Test
Previous tests for prostate cancer cannot do what this new test can do. The current tests are usually blood tests, which are less effective. Many men are thus treated unnecessarily. This can cause a lot of worry among these patients when there is no reason for it.
The new test, called the prostate urine risk test (PUR), looks for indicators of certain genes in the urine. By finding the indicators that are associated with prostate cancer, the urine test is more accurate than previous ones. In a trial of over 500 men, the test sorted groups of high risk and low risk patients very effectively. This shows it can be a tool to fight prostate cancer in men.
Additional Prostate Cancer Research
Scientists have been aggressively researching prostate cancer in an attempt to create tests that find the disease earlier. Other urine tests have been developed, and there are also blood tests and new scans currently being studied. This is all in an effort to detect prostate cancer better and earlier.
Although the urine test is proving to be effective, experts think that a combination of checks for prostate cancer is ultimately the best way to screen for it. This is important because so many men are affected by prostate cancer in the United Kingdom. There are almost 50,000 new cases of it each year, and not nearly enough men are being tested.
Why do traditional tests fall short?
Part of the problem is that the traditional prostate tests can give results that are less than satisfying. That is why most men have not been tested or screened. Three in every four men who test positive for prostate cancer are actually found to be cancer free at a follow-up appointment. The testing also misses fifteen percent of the men it tests that actually have the disease.
Still, the current test cannot predict whether the cancer will go on to grow and cause harm. Prostate cancer is a slow moving disease, and in certain situations, it may not cause a problem at all. But in other cases, the patient may have a tumor that is growing quickly and needs immediate treatment to stop it from spreading.
The Next Steps
The leader of the research, Shea Connell, says that the next step is to plan an even bigger clinical trial. He hopes that the urine test will be able to help doctors within the next three years. He also thinks the best way to use the urine test is in combination with other testing.
Connell said that men often die with prostate cancer, but not from it. The current tests cannot tell which men need immediate and aggressive treatment, and which just need casual maintenance of the disease.
All doctors seem to agree that prostate cancer needs more tests, and these tests need to become more accurate. A researcher at Cancer Research UK, Georgina Hill, said the results so far are good and have a bright future. However, these tests need considerably more research before doctors can begin to give them to patients all the time.