Movember funded research
test could cut need for biopsies by 35%Image by: Movember
Movember funded research
28 April 2021

Movember-funded prostate cancer test could reduce need for biopsies

2 minutes read time

Researchers from the University of East Anglia have developed a new urine test for prostate cancer which also shows how aggressive the disease is.

A new study published today shows how an experimental new test called ‘ExoGrail’ has the potential to revolutionise how patients with suspected prostate cancer are risk-assessed prior to an invasive biopsy.

The research team say their new test could reduce the number of unnecessary prostate cancer biopsies by 35 per cent.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime.

The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a physical examination known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), an MRI scan or an invasive biopsy.

However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men.

Lead researcher Dr Dan Brewer, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “While prostate cancer is responsible for a large proportion of all male cancer deaths, it is more commonly a disease men die with rather than from.

“Therefore, there is a desperate need for improvements in diagnosing and predicting outcomes for prostate cancer patients to minimise over-diagnosis and overtreatment whilst appropriately treating men with aggressive disease, especially if this can be done without taking an invasive biopsy.

“Invasive biopsies come at considerable economic, psychological and societal cost to patients and healthcare systems alike.”

The test was trialled using urine samples from 207 patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

" the test could reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies by 35% "

It was able to correctly detect the people who had prostate cancer, and suggest which of the patients would need a biopsy and those for whom it would be unnecessary based on the seriousness of the disease.

According to Dr Brewer the test could "reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies by 35%".

The study was part-funded by Movember, a charity best known for its fundraising efforts every November where men are encouraged to grow a moustache.

Paul Villanti, executive director of programmes at Movember, said they were "proud to have supported" the test's development.

He added: "Having non-invasive tests which can accurately show how aggressive a man’s prostate cancer is not only reduces the number of men having to undergo painful biopsies, but also ensures that the right course of treatment for the patient is selected more quickly."