A new study by researchers at the World Health Organisation says bladder cancer mutations can be detected by a urine test up to 10 years before clinical diagnosis.
“A simple urine test has recently been developed, and these new results are another exciting step towards the validation of a non-invasive early detection tool,” said Florence Le Calvez-Kelm, IARC scientist and lead investigator.
The test could improve and simplify the way in which bladder cancer is detected, she added. The study was published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The new test detects mutations in the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene, the most common mutations in bladder cancer, according to the report.
Because there is a lack of evidence on early detection efficiency, urine tests are not currently recommended by urological societies. The diagnosis of bladder cancer is based on invasive and expensive procedures such as cystoscopy, where a probe with a camera is inserted into the bladder through the groin.
A pilot study was first done to assess the test’s ability to detect the mutations in urine samples before any clinical symptoms of bladder cancer occur.
The scientists were able to detect TERT promoter mutations in 46.7% of the asymptomatic people who later developed bladder cancer. And this was up to 10 years before being clinically diagnosed.
IARC scientists are now collaborating with other large prospective cohort studies to confirm these findings.
“If the findings are validated, large trials conducted in individuals at high risk of developing bladder cancer should be designed to address the health and cost benefits of screening for TERT promoter mutations for the global bladder cancer burden,” said Mahdi Sheikh, a scientist at IARC and the co-first author of the study.