Urine test could detect two cancers with ‘99%’ success rate

This Morning: Dr Zoe explains symptoms of pancreatic cancer

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Researchers, led by Dr Ho Sang Jung, collaborated on the project to improve cancer diagnostics. Dr Jung said: “In the case of cancers where the diagnosis method is not well known, such as pancreatic cancer, it is difficult to detect and the survival rate after initial diagnosis is low. “Since early diagnosis is the most important for incurable diseases such as cancer, we expect this technology to provide a new diagnostic method.”

For the research study, the team manufactured a strip-type sensor that detects metabolites.

Urine samples of cancer patients and non-cancer patients were compared in terms of metabolic components.

When cancer cells proliferate in the body, they secrete different metabolites into the urine due to abnormal metabolism.

The strip sensor “succeeded in distinguishing up to 99 percent of prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer patients from normal people”.

The rapid cancer patient screening tool is also highly accessible, as urine is a “biological sample that anyone can easily” provide.

The authors noted: “In addition, since the production price of the strip-type sensor is less than KRW 100 per unit, it is expected that it can be used for mass inspection.”

Currently, the research team is gradually increasing the types of cancer that could be diagnosed by analysing the urine of bowel cancer and lung cancer patients.

Prostate cancer diagnosis

Prostate Cancer UK highlighted a urine test that highlights the activity of the PCA3 gene.

“CA3 is a gene that is active in all prostate cells but it’s very active in prostate cancer cells,” the charity elaborates.

“At the moment the PCA3 test is only available in a few private hospitals and clinics, as we still need more research about how well it works.”

Do book a doctor’s appointment if you identify with any of the following possible signs of prostate cancer, as pointed out by the NHS:

  • Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • Straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • Weak flow
  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen.

While these could be a sign of an enlarged non-cancerous prostate, it’s still better to get a health check if you experience such signs.

The sooner that any type of cancer is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin and the better the prognosis is likely to be.

Pancreatic cancer

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • The whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), and you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
  • Loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • Feeling tired or having no energy
  • A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery.

Other symptoms can affect your digestion, such as:

  • Feeling or being sick
  • Diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
  • Pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you’re Eating or lying down and better when you lean forward.

The research project was a collaboration between the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS), a government-funded research institute, and Kyung Hee University Medical School.

You can find the peer-reviewed study in the Biosensors and Bioelectronics journal.

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