Thousands of men you will receive a home-tested test kit adapted to the mailboxes to check for prostate cancer, which could help detect the disease years before other screening methods.
The simple urine test, called a “prostate screening box,” is designed to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer without men having to leave home.
Currently, it is difficult to know which types of prostate cancer can be left alone and which require urgent action. “It’s not a simple matter of predicting which tumors will become aggressive, making it difficult to decide on treatment for many men,” says Dr. Jeremy Clark, principal investigator at UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
But in a small pilot study, the new tests predicted which patients required treatment up to five years before standard clinical methods.
These tests are considered revolutionary because they could also mean that men would not have to go to clinics for blood tests or rectal exams in the future and instead could be examined from the comfort of their home.
How do the tests work?
The tests will be submitted as part of a trial conducted by the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).
Men participating in the trial will receive a urine sampling kit at home and will be asked to provide two urine samples; first in the morning they will be asked to urinate in a test tube (through a funnel) and then take another urine. shows an hour later. The kit includes funnels to help direct the flow of urine, two test tubes and their respective caps and a timer.
The samples are returned to a laboratory for analysis. The test specifically examines gene expression in urine samples and provides information on whether a cancer present is aggressive or “low-risk.” The samples collected will be used to analyze prostate health in 2,000 men in the UK, Europe and Canada.
“The prostate screening box part sounds like a pretty small innovation, but it means that in the future cancer control in men could be much less stressful for them and reduce the number of expensive trips to the hospital. “says Dr. Clark.
The prostate is a small pelvic gland found only in men. Approximately the size of a walnut, it sits between the penis and the bladder. It constantly produces secretions that flow naturally into the urethra, the tube through which urine passes from the bladder.
These secretions carry cells and molecules from all over the prostate that are expelled from the body when urinating. The test picks them up and examines them. As Dr. Clark explains, “It’s a way to take samples of the entire prostate at once.”
As the prostate secretes constantly, the levels of biomarkers in the urethra will accumulate over time. Collecting from the first hour of the day means that secretions can be collected during the night, which makes the analysis even more sensitive.
What do you expect to achieve in the trial?
The team has already tested the kit in a small group of participants and is now presenting it to thousands more men as part of the next testing phase. Men cannot enroll in this particular phase of the trial, as the charity Movember, which helped fund the investigation, has already identified those eligible to participate.
Samples will be collected from: men who have been tested for PSA (a type of blood test used to detect prostate cancer) and the result marks them as possible prostate cancer; men with “low-risk” prostate cancer; and men with a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer. These individuals will be mostly between 55 and 80 years old.
Not surprisingly, the reviews so far have been positive. Participants in the initial trials preferred the test at home compared to having to go to the hospital.
We hope that the use of our prostate screening box in the future can revolutionize the way disease progression is monitored in those who are in ‘active surveillance’, as men only need to visit the clinic after a positive urine result, ”says Dr. Clark. “This contrasts with the current situation where men are removed to the clinic every six to twelve months for a series of tests.”
A negative urine test could allow men to retest every two to three years, relieving stress to the patient and reducing the hospital’s workload, he adds.
Robert Mills, NNUH’s consulting clinical director in urology, says the test can “significantly change” the way prostate cancer is diagnosed and managed. If rehearsals go well, the test could land on a fleece near you in three years.