New test may transform prostate cancer care

A simple urine test for prostate cancer has been discovered, which can distinguish between slow- growing and aggressive strains of the disease in the laboratory. If it works in the clinic, it would be a major advance in the management of the commonest cancer in men.

US researchers said the results were "exciting" but warned that further testing and development would be necessary before the test could be made available to patients. In many men the cancer is slow growing and needs no treatment beyond "watchful waiting".

These men live with the cancer without treatment for decades. Other men have faster-growing forms which demand surgery, hormone treatment and radiotherapy, and it can be difficult to tell which sort a patient has.

Arul Chinnaiyan of the University of Michigan, an author of the study, published in Nature, said: "We over-treat patients because physicians don't know which tumours will be slow growing. We have identified a potential marker for the aggressive tumours."