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Urine test that spots bladder cancer proves 100% accurate in trials

Groundbreaking urine test that can spot bladder cancer proves 100% accurate in trials – and could soon be rolled out to patients

  • Pioneering liquid biopsy could replace the dipstick test currently used by GPs
  • Experts say test ‘could change the entire process of diagnosing bladder cancer’
  • It already has approval for use in hospitals and could be used in GPs by February

Patients could soon be offered a groundbreaking urine test that can spot bladder cancer after it proved 100 per cent accurate in trials.

The pioneering liquid biopsy could replace the dipstick test currently used by GPs as a first check for the life-threatening condition.

Dipstick tests check the urine for traces of blood, which can be a sign of bladder cancer. Patients with a positive result are referred on for a series of procedures to gain a definitive diagnosis.

In 98 per cent of cases, no cancer is found. But owing to its high accuracy rate, the new URO17 urine test could rule out cancer, or flag it up, at the first stage, meaning other checks are unnecessary.

Mr Nikhil Vasdev, a urologist at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and chief investigator for the latest study, believes the new test ‘could change the entire process of diagnosing bladder cancer’.

The pioneering liquid biopsy could replace the dipstick test currently used by GPs as a first check for the life-threatening condition.

He continued: ‘If our study is correct, then this test is incredibly accurate and could help people escape the stress of a hospital trip for a cancer they don’t have.’

More than 10,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year. If a GP believes a patient may have the disease – for example, if they have recurrent infections in the bladder – then they may carry out a dipstick test.

If the test finds ‘hidden’ blood in urine, the patient will be sent for a procedure called a cystoscopy, where a probe carrying a camera is inserted into the bladder, via the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. 

This allows them to look for abnormal changes that could signal cancer. This is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic but is often uncomfortable.

The URO17 test could spare patients from having a cystoscopy.

The trial – the first to study the effectiveness of the URO17 in Europe – tested 71 patients at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire who were suspected of having bladder cancer but had not received a diagnosis.

All 71 were scheduled for a cystoscopy but beforehand urine samples were collected and tested using the UR017 and 44 were found to have bladder cancer. The test correctly ruled out those who didn’t.

The test already has been approved for use in hospitals and Mr Vasdev says he hopes to begin using it in general practice by February.

He said: ‘This is a very strong tool, and could save the NHS tons of money spent on biopsies.’

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