Scientists Can Now Diagnose Breast Cancer from a Simple Urine Test
A breast cancer diagnosis can sometimes be a lengthy and invasive process. It may require a mammogram, a biopsy, an ultrasound, or a combination of these tests. But researchers are working on an easier way for patients to get tested for early warning signs of this life-threatening disease, before it has a chance to grow and spread.
Japanese engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi has had the technology to test for breast cancer and colon cancer in urine samples since 2016. The test seeks out particular types of waste products, which act as cancer biomarkers, in the urine.
Now the team just has to test their technology’s practicality in daily use. The test must prove effective, for example, on urine samples kept at room temperature. The researchers also hope to expand the list of cancers they can test for.
Chiharu Odaira, a spokesperson for Hitachi, says the technology will be especially useful for children and people who are afraid of needles (who may not otherwise get a biopsy), but it will also reduce the medical and social cost of cancer to the world.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test,” says Odaira, “as there will be no need to go to a medical organisation for a blood test.”
Researchers hope the technology will have passed all its safety tests and gotten full approval for use in medical setting sometime in the 2020s.