A new urine test could predict cancer 10 years before symptoms show

The important symptoms of bladder cancer to remember

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The urine test checks for genetic mutations associated with the most common form of bladder cancer. Lead researcher Dr Florence Le Calvez-Kelm said: “Diagnosis of bladder cancer relies on expensive and invasive procedures such as cystoscopy.” At present, cystoscopy involves the insertion of a camera into the bladder.

Meanwhile, having a “simpler urine test that could accurately diagnose and predict the likelihood of cancer years in advance” would be beneficial in numerous ways.

Not only will it “help to spot more cancer at an early stage”, but the urine test could also mean “unnecessary cystoscopies” are avoided in healthy patients.

Convergent Genomics developed the UroAmp test, drawing on previous research on genetic mutations linked to bladder cancer.

For their research, the UroAmp test narrowly focused on 10 specific gene mutations.

Working alongside colleagues at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, the UroAmp test was trialled on samples from more than 50,000 participants.

The participants originally provided urine samples for the Golestan Cohort Study, which tracked their health for more than 10 years.

A total of 40 people in the study developed bladder cancer during the decade-long duration of the study.

The research team were able to test urine samples from 29 of these participants along with samples from nearly 100 similar participants as controls.

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Of the 29 participants who developed bladder cancer, the UroAmp test accurately predicted future bladder cancer in 66 percent of cases.

A group of 14 of these participants were diagnosed within seven years of giving their urine sample, of whom the test was able to predict cancer in 86 percent.

The test was also 96 percent in predicting those participants who would not develop bladder cancer in the future from the control group.

Dr Le Calvez-Kelm added: “We’ve clearly identified the most important acquired genetic mutations that can significantly increase the risk of cancer developing within 10 years.

“Should the results be replicated in larger cohorts, urine tests for these mutations could enable routine screening for high-risk groups.”

High-risk groups for bladder cancer include smokers and those exposed to bladder carcinogens through their work.

Dr Le Calvez-Kelm said: “This kind of test could also be used when patients come to their doctors with blood in the urine, to help reduce unnecessary cystoscopies.

“If we can identify bladder cancer early on, before the disease has advanced, then we can save more lives.”

Dr Joost Boormans said the research is “very encouraging”, but “it’s unlikely that we’ll have a mass screening programme for bladder cancer in the near future”.

Dr Boormans noted: “Where a urine test for genetic mutations could show its value is in reducing cystoscopies and scans in bladder cancer patients who are being monitored for recurrence.

“A simple urine test would be far easier for patients to undergo than invasive procedures or scans, as well as being less costly for health services.”

The new study’s findings were presented at the EAU’s annual Congress in Milan, Italy.

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