Researchers from the University Hospital of Lyon in France have developed a simple test for an earlier and more accurate warning of returning bladder cancer.
The researchers have tested the urine of 348 bladder cancer patients for a faulty protein called TERT and were able to predict when the cancer was about to return in more than 80% of patients.
According to the research published in the British Journal of Cancer, the standard method, called cytology, detected the return of cancer in only 34% of patients.
Compared to cytology, the new test detected bladder cancers that had not spread to the muscle wall, which will help doctors to begin treatment sooner and before symptoms appear.
The new test has also distinguished cancer from urinary tract infections (UTIs).
University Hospital of Lyon’s Oncology Institute researcher Professor Alain Ruffion said: “The standard cytology test needs a doctor to look down a microscope to read the results, but the TERT test is read by a machine, which is simpler, more accurate and available to use straight away.
"While the TERT test costs slightly more than standard cytology, it is likely to become cheaper over time.
“The fact that the test doesn’t react to urinary tract infections is very interesting because it shows that it is robust and unlikely to give misleading results.”
According to the researchers, further investigation is needed to understand more about the role TERT faults play in bladder cancer.
Cancer Research UK senior science information manager Anna Perman said: "This promising study suggests a new and more accurate early warning system to detect whether bladder cancers are likely to return.
"Larger trials are now needed to see if this information could help more people survive by catching bladder cancer’s return at its earliest stage.”
Image: Researchers develop a new test for earlier and more accurate warning of returning bladder cancer. Photo: courtesy of Cancer Research UK.