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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
'Revolution' in bladder cancer test
Lab analysis
The test appears to be twice as effective
A simple urine test could revolutionise the way doctors diagnose bladder cancer.

Scientists at University College London believe it could be twice as accurate in detecting tumours than the standard urine analysis currently used to diagnose the disease.

It may also provide a better way of diagnosing prostate cancer, and could mean hundreds of lives are saved.

At the moment, the best test for bladder cancer involves the use of a thin pencil-like device called a cystoscope which has a camera on the end so doctors can examine the tissues of the bladder.

However, it is expensive, and can be painful for the patient.

An alternative test, which involves analysing the urine for the presence of cancer cells, is also used, but it is not reliable.

The new test is based on measuring levels of a protein called Mcm5, which researchers have discovered is found at higher levels in cancer cells.

Researchers carried out a trial involving 350 patients who showed symptoms of urinary tract disease such as blood in urine or pain.

Comparison

They were given a conventional urine analysis and were also tested for the level of the protein Mcm5.

The protein test identified 92% of tumours whereas routine analysis picked up only 48% of them.

Further larger scale trials are now planned. If they produce similar results, the new test could become the standard way to detect bladder cancer.

The researchers believe it could also be used to detect prostate cancer. Preliminary tests on 12 patients have been encouraging.

Lead researcher Professor Gareth Williams from University College London said: "To find an effective way of diagnosing early prostate cancer would be very exciting because the effectiveness of the PSA test in prostate cancer screening remains controversial."

Bladder cancer is the fourth commonest cancer in men and the eighth commonest cancer in women.

Latest statistics show there are nearly 13,000 new cases a year mostly occurring in the over 65's.

In the last 30 years improved treatment and diagnosis has improved five-year survival rates by 15%.

Prostate cancer is the second commonest cancer in men with more than 21,000 cases occurring each year mostly in the over 65's.

The survival rate has risen from 33% to 49% in England and Wales in the last 30 years.

The research is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

See also:

17 Mar 00 | C-D
15 Feb 02 | Boston 2002
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