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Urine testing for telomerase enzyme for bladder cancer diagnosis

Dr Maria Aurora Sanchini and her colleagues from Italy have found a new urine test which detects bladder cancer// in people with high-risk of cancer occurrence. The test which is proved to be 90% accurate is used to measure the level of the enzyme telomerase in urine of patients. The results of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study would be very useful for detecting cancer in smokers and people with genetic predisposition for cancer.

Bladder cancer cure is very difficult in advanced stages and its treatment is easy in early cases of bladder cancer, but bladder detection tests and procedures are very costly and invasive, a easy laboratory test like this would help in easy detection.

The researchers studied 218 men, 134 of whom had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and tested for the presence of telomerase enzyme in their urine, which is present in most of the cancers. The enzyme check was compared to urine cytology - which looks for cancer cells in urine, but which the researchers say has limited sensitivity, especially for those with low-grade cancers. The enzyme test was shown to be 90% accurate in detecting people who did have cancer and 88% accurate in results for those who did not.

Dr Maria Aurora Sanchini, said, 'The test we developed requires a small amount of urine; is non-invasive, inexpensive, and easy to perform; and permits a quantitative evaluation of telomerase activity in cellular extracts from urine, but the test is not recommended for use in routine screening programs because of the low incidence of bladder cancer, and should be aimed at high-risk subgroups such as smokers who have about a three-fold increased risk of developing bladder cancer compared with non-smokers.'

Cancer Research UK's Professor Gareth Williams said: 'The detection of bladder cancer currently depends on invasive and costly examination, so there is therefore an urgent requirement for a s imple non-invasive test and this study shows that measuring telomerase activity in urine samples provides a highly sensitive and specific approach for the detection of bladder cancer'.

Professor Gareth Williams added, 'Further prospective studies on larger patient populations are now required to follow up on these exciting preliminary findings and to determine the clinical utility of this test in the primary diagnosis and monitoring of bladder cancer.'

(BBC News)

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