Norwich researchers pioneer prostate cancer home test

UEA Medical School

UEA's Norwich Medical School which worked on the prostate screening box project with Professor Colin Cooper and Dr Jeremy Clark. - Credit: UEA

A new testing kit developed by researchers in Norwich is to be sent to thousands of men across the world to revolutionise diagnosising prostate cancer. 

Work by the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to create the Prostate Screening Box is intended to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer in a non-invasive way, through a kit that can be put through the letter box.

The next phase will see 2,000 men in the UK, Europe and Canada have their prostate health analysed through the home kit, without having to undergo a rectal exam. 

 Prostate Screening Box by UEA

Research by UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has created the Prostate Screening Box which 2,000 men worldwide will receive to test for prostate cancer. - Credit: UEA

The men will be asked to provide two urine samples - one first thing in the morning and the second an hour later, which will be analysed in a lab.

The test can look at gene expression in urine samples, which can tell scientists whether a cancer is aggressive or low risk. 

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Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Clark, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: "Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. However it usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. It is not a simple matter to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men. 

"The Prostate Screening Box part sounds like quite a small innovation, but it means that in future the monitoring of cancer in men could be so much less stressful for them and reduce the number of expensive trips to the hospital."

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The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a rectal exam, MRI scan or a biopsy.

Men are called to the clinic every six to 12 months but following the test would only have to visit after a positive result. 

It is hoped those who receive a negative result would not need a retest for up to three years, reducing stress for the patient and pressure on the hospital.

Robert Mills, consultant clinical director in urology at NNUH, said the non-invasive test could "significantly change" how early prostate cancer diagnoses were diagnosed and managed. 

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