London: Soon, a simple urine test maybe able to detect people at risk of developing cancers of the gut, stomach and pancreas, say scientists.
A team at the University of Edinburgh has identified key proteins in the urine of patients with advanced cancers, a major finding which it claims could help detect the cancers in
people who are even yet to show symptoms of the disease.
And, a simple urine test would enable patients to be diagnosed much earlier, leading to improved survival rates, say the scientists.
Dr Holger Husi, who led the team, 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 majority of these cancers are currently diagnosed late where no surgery is possible due to its advanced stage.
Earlier diagnosis would mean curative surgery or chemotherapy would be possible for more patients."
The findings, published in the `Proteomics-Clinical Applications` journal, compared urine samples from patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers with urine samples from
people who were cancer-free.
The scientists analysed the samples to identify thousands of proteins. They then identified six particular proteins, which were present in 98 per cent of the cancer cases but absent in almost 90 per cent of samples from patients without cancer.
They then narrowed molecules down to the two proteins -- S100A6 and S1009 -- most likely to appear in samples from patients with cancer but be absent from the other samples.
The scientists claim that they now intend to see whether people with early stage cancers, which have not yet been diagnosed, have the same levels of proteins present.
This would involve analysing samples from at least 1,000 volunteers and tracking the participants over a number of years to identify those who are then later diagnosed with
upper gastrointestinal cancers.