Scientists Newcastle

What you need to know

  • Biopsies used to detect and monitor prostate cancer can be invasive and cause complications. Prostate Cancer UK and Movember are funding Professor Colin Cooper to develop a urine test which could be a non-invasive alternative.
  • The test looks at genetic material secreted from the prostate cancer into the urine.
  • In this project, the researchers are using the test on 450 men, to confirm if it’s an accurate predictor of how aggressive prostate cancer is.

We hope this will bring us one step closer to making more accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer available to men everywhere.

- Professor Colin Cooper

 

A new way to accurately diagnose prostate cancer

Prostate cancer varies between different men – for some, their cancer is aggressive and will need treating straight away. Other men’s cancers are slow growing and can be left untreated and on active surveillance. At the moment, doctors use biopsies to determine whether men’s cancers are aggressive, but these can be invasive and cause complications.

Professor Colin Cooper and his team are developing a prostate cancer urine test, which could detect whether prostate cancer is aggressive or not, and help some men avoid a biopsy.

Finding clues in urine

The test looks for a type of genetic material, called RNA, that is secreted from prostate cancer into men’s urine. In a previous study funded by Movember, the researchers used over 500 urine samples from men with and without prostate cancer to work out how to use this RNA to tell which men have aggressive prostate cancer that needs treating. They have also developed a method to allow the test to be taken at home, so men can avoid visiting the clinic.

Final step before a clinical trial

In this project, funded by both Prostate Cancer UK and Movember, the researchers will confirm whether their test can diagnose aggressive prostate cancer in 450 men from Norfolk and Norwich hospital, including 180 who are on active surveillance. All the men will take the at-home version of the test.

By the end of the project, the team will have confirmed whether their test accurately predicts how aggressive prostate cancer is. The next step will be to use the test in a clinical trial, to see if it is a better way to detect and monitor prostate cancer than current methods.