An innovative new urine test could help predict bladder cancer in patients more than a decade before symptoms begin to show.
- An international team of researchers have developed a new urine test – called the “UroAmp test”.
- The test, which looks for genetic mutations in urine, identifies the most common type of bladder cancer up to 12 years before diagnosis.
- Researchers hope that regular screenings with this new test for those most likely to develop the disease could lead to earlier diagnoses and treatment.
Bladder cancer is the 7th most common cancer in France. It is estimated that around 13,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed each year, mainly in men (81% of cases), according to the national cancer institute.
Bladder cancer: 80% of patients survive when caught early
Early detection of this cancer saves lives and avoids unnecessary operations in healthy patients: if cancer is detected early, more than 80% of patients survive for at least five years.
This is why a team of French, Iranian and American researchers have come together to develop a new urine test – called the “UroAmp test” – which identifies mutations in 60 genes, allowing bladder cancer to be detected several times. years before the first symptoms appear. It was developed by Convergent Genomics, a company linked to Oregon Health and Science University, USA. The researchers presented their findings to the annual congress of the European Association of Urology (UAE) in Milan, Italy.
Building on previous research into genetic mutations linked to bladder cancer, the research team narrowed down the test to focus on mutations in ten genes. Working in collaboration with researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, they tested the new device using samples from the Golestan Cohort Study, which followed the health of more than 50,000 people over 10 years with all provided urine samples.
The test is 66% accurate at diagnosing bladder cancer 12 years before
A total of 40 of these participants developed bladder cancer during the decade of the study. The research team was able to test urine samples from 29 of these participants as well as samples from nearly 100 similar participants as controls. Of the 29 participants who had developed bladder cancer, the test was able to accurately predict future cancer in 19 people (66%) – even though the samples were taken up to 12 years before diagnosis. A group of 14 of these participants were diagnosed within seven years of giving their urine sample and the test was able to predict cancer in 12 of them (86%). The test was also 96% accurate in predicting participants who did not develop bladder cancer from the control group.
The test was tested separately with colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Ohio State University in the US, using samples from 70 bladder cancer patients, as well as those from 96 people who did not have cancer for the control group, taken before a cystoscopy – an operation in which a camera is inserted into the bladder.
However, unlike the Golestan study, some samples from the US patients were taken on the day they were diagnosed with bladder cancer, rather than years earlier. Results revealed mutations in 50 of 70 patient samples (71%) whose tumors were visible on their cystoscopy. Some of these were new diagnoses and others were for recurrent previous cancer. These mutations were not found in 90 of 96 (94%) patients with negative cystoscopies.
“Diagnosis of bladder cancer relies on costly and invasive procedures”
Lead researcher Dr Florence Le Calvez-Kelm of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said the results were positive and raised hopes of an alternative to conventional screening methods that can predict bladder cancer the most. as soon as possible. “Diagnosis of bladder cancer relies on expensive and invasive procedures such as cystoscopy. Having a simpler urine test that could accurately diagnose and even predict the likelihood of cancer years in advance could help detect more cancers at an early stage.”she explained in a communicated.
“If the results are replicated in larger cohorts, urine testing for these mutations could allow routine screening of high-risk groups, such as smokers or people exposed to known bladder carcinogens in the setting of their work”she added. “This type of test could also be used when patients visit their doctor with blood in the urine, to reduce unnecessary cystoscopies. If we can identify bladder cancer before the disease progresses, then we can save more lives.”concluded the researcher.