An ‘At Home Collection Kit’ in development to diagnose prostate cancer

Medical Devices

The University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) have revealed that an ‘At-Home Collection Kit’ (AHCK) is currently under development which will provide a Prostate Urine Risk (PUR) test, for the diagnoses of aggressive prostate cancer at home.

The AHCK’s purpose is to provide men with an alternative to going to the clinic by letting them use samples collected from home. Researchers believe this will be a revolutionary stepping-stone for the diagnosis of prostate cancer due to the test having a function which will allow it to detect whether patients will need treatment up to five years earlier than current clinical methods.

“The UEA and the NNUH have revealed that an AHCK is currently under development.“

The research team provided fourteen participants with an AHCK and once the test was completed, the morning-routine urine samples were compared to samples taken after a digital rectal examination.

Lead researcher from the UEA’s Norwich Medical School, Dr Jeremy Clark, stated: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly, and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men. The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a physical examination known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), an MRI scan or a biopsy. We developed the PUR test, which looks at gene expression in urine samples and provides vital information about whether a cancer is aggressive or low risk. Because the prostate is constantly secreting, the collection of urine from men’s first urination of the day means that the biomarker levels from the prostate are much higher and more consistent, so this is a great improvement. We found that the urine samples taken at home showed the biomarkers for prostate cancer much more clearly than after a rectal examination and feedback from the participants showed that the at home test was preferable. Using our At Home test could in future revolutionise how those on active surveillance are monitored for disease progression, with men only having to visit the clinic for a positive urine result. This is in contrast to the current situation where men are recalled to the clinic every six to 12 months for painful and expensive biopsies. Because the PUR test accurately predicts aggressive prostate cancer and predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods, it means that a negative test could enable men to only be retested every two to three years, relieving stress to the patient and reducing hospital workload.”

A consultant surgeon in Urology at the NNUH, Robert Mills, stated: “This is a very exciting development as this test gives us the possibility of differentiating those who do from those who do not have prostate cancer so avoiding putting a lot of men through unnecessary investigations. When we do diagnose prostate cancer, the urine test has the potential to differentiate those who need to have treatment from those who do not need treatment, which would be invaluable. These patients go on to an active surveillance programme following the diagnosis which may involve repeat biopsies and MRI scans which is quite intrusive. This urine test has the potential to tell us whether we needed to intervene with these patients.”

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