New tests detect 99% of recurrent bladder cancer, says report

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new urine test, used alongside an internal bladder examination has a 99 per cent success rate in detecting recurrent bladder cancers, says a recent study. People who have undergone treatment for bladder cancer are usually monitored for some time afterwards, as the cancer can often come back.

Currently, this monitoring combines a cystoscopy, where a fibre optic tube is inserted into the urinary tract enabling the doctor to look at the bladder, and an examination of the urine under the microscope to look for cancer cells. The new method also uses cystoscopy, but replaces the microscopic examination with a urine test. This test detects the presence of so-called nuclear matrix proteins, which signal that cancer may be present.

The new testing is also rapid, returning results in less than an hour. "This is good news for patients," said Barry Stein, professor of urology at the Brown Medical School. "If you have been treated for bladder cancer and are being monitored for recurrence, the accuracy of your diagnosis is extremely important.

"We depend on the urine test to show us whether there is a possibility of cancer that we are not seeing with the scope. If we say there's no recurrence of cancer, we want to be right." Professor Stein added that if shown to be accurate, sensitive and reliable the urine test may one day be used alone. This would be good news for bladder cancer patients, as cystoscopy can be an uncomfortable experience.

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the findings, adding that the organisation is currently developing a diagnostic screening test for both bladder and prostate cancer, based on a protein known as MCM5.