London: A simple urine test can help detect cancers of the gut, stomach and pancreas much earlier than existing procedures.
Researchers have identified key proteins in the urine of patients with advanced cancers which could be instrumental in diagnosing the disease even before their symptoms show up.
Only around 10 percent of people with cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract live after five years of diagnosis. This is because these aggressive cancers are often diagnosed at an advanced stage.
A rather painful procedure like the biopsy is the only way to tell for sure whether you have cancer or not. The doctor cuts out a small piece of tissue and sends it to a lab to be studied.
Holger Husi of the University of Edinburgh`s Tissue Injury and Repair Group said: "The aim of this work is to enable these cancers to be diagnosed much earlier. This would help us to treat the cancer before it has a chance to spread."
The research compared and analysed urine samples from patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers with that of their cancer-free counterparts to identify thousands of proteins, according to an Edinburgh statement.
They then pinpointed six particular proteins which were present in 98 percent of the cancer cases but absent in almost 90 percent of samples from patients without cancer, reports the journal Proteomics-Clinical Applications.
The researchers then narrowed molecules down to the two proteins -- S100A6 and S1009 -- most likely to appear in samples from cancer patients.