Thousands of men to trial prostate cancer home testing kit

Published by  Communications

On 30th Apr 2021

Thousands of men worldwide are to receive a home test kit for prostate cancer – thanks to pioneering research from the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

The research team are trialling a new home-testing ‘Prostate Screening Box’ to collect men’s urine samples at-home. The urine samples will be used to analyse the health of the prostate in 2,000 men in the UK, Europe and Canada.

This simple urine test is intended to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer and in a pilot study predicted which patients required treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.

The Prostate Screening Box has been developed in collaboration with REAL Digital International Limited to create a kit that fits through a standard letterbox.

It means that men can provide a urine sample in the comfort of their own home, instead of going into a clinic or having to undergo an uncomfortable rectal examination. The research team hope that it could revolutionise diagnosis of the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Clark, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. However it usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. It is not a simple matter to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men”.

“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 a biopsy”.

“We have developed the PUR (Prostate Urine Risk) test, which looks at gene expression in urine samples and provides vital information about whether a cancer is aggressive or ‘low risk’.

“The Prostate Screening Box part sounds like quite a small innovation, but it means that in future the monitoring of cancer in men could be so much less stressful for them and reduce the number of expensive trips to the hospital.  

“The prostate lies just below the bladder. It constantly produces secretions which naturally flow into the urethra - the tube through which urine passes from the bladder. The prostatic secretions carry cells and molecules from all over the prostate which are flushed out of the body on urination. We collect these and examine them. It’s a way of sampling the whole prostate in one go.

“As the prostate is constantly secreting, the levels of biomarkers in the urethra will build up with time. Collecting from the first wee of the day means that overnight secretions can be collected which makes the analysis more sensitive.”

The team have previously trialled the kit with a small group of participants, but in the next phase of the research study are rolling it out to thousands.

Men taking part in the trial will receive a home urine-sampling kit and will be asked to provide two urine samples – one to be taken first thing in the morning and the second an hour later. The samples will then be sent back to the lab for analysis.

Dr Clark said: “Feedback from early participants showed that the at-home collection was much preferred over sample collection in a hospital.

“We hope that using our Prostate Screening Box could in future revolutionise how those on ‘active surveillance’ are monitored for disease progression, with men only having to visit the clinic after a positive urine result.

“This is in contrast to the current situation where men are recalled to the clinic every six to 12 months for a range of tests including DRE, PSA tests, painful and expensive biopsies and MRI. We are working to develop the test to help patients in three years’ time.

“A negative test could enable men to only be retested every two to three years, relieving stress to the patient and reducing hospital workload,” he added.

Robert Mills, Consultant Clinical Director in Urology at NNUH, said: “This simple, non-invasive urine test has the potential to significantly change how we diagnose and manage early prostate cancer for the benefit of patients and health care systems. It may enable us to avoid unnecessary diagnosis of low risk disease as well as managing patients more appropriately with surveillance for those with low risk of progression and early curative treatment for those at high risk of progression.”

Paul Villanti, executive director of programs at Movember, said: “The PUR test has great potential to transform the way prostate cancer is managed. Not only can it accurately predict when a man’s disease will become aggressive and require treatment, but it has the added advantage of allowing men to complete it at home.

“We are proud to have supported the development of the PUR test from its early stages as part of our Global Action Plan on Biomarkers, through to this trial involving thousands of men across the world.

“Through our Global Action Plan on active surveillance, we have been able to identify hundreds of men from the UK, Germany, Italy and Canada who are suitable to take part in this trial.

“We hope it will speed up the trial’s progress and get this test included as part of clinical care for men as quickly as possible.”

The research has been funded by a Movember and Prostate Cancer UK Innovation award, the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, the King family, the Andy Ripley Memorial Fund, the Hargrave Foundation, Norfolk Freemasons and the Tesco Centenary Grant.

Study with us

Explore our research

Latest News

  News
Adult holding a child's hands
03 Dec 2021

Making the right decisions for children growing up in long-term foster care

Read more >
  News
Young women volunteering at a food donation centre
02 Dec 2021

UEA volunteer research reveals how to build inclusive societies

Strong partnerships between volunteers and their governments are key to how we build equal and inclusive societies – according to a new UN report involving UEA...

Read more >
  News
Female Barista Giving Parcel And Coffee To Customer
02 Dec 2021

New support launched for employers and staff affected by Covid-19 pandemic

A new resource has been launched to help employers and frontline workers as they recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Read more >
  News
Blue and white pills falling onto a flat surface.
01 Dec 2021

The diabetes medication that could revolutionise heart failure treatment

A medication originally used for patients with diabetes is the first to help people with heart failure and could revolutionise treatment, according to new UEA...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
Blue and white pills falling onto a flat surface.
01 Dec 2021

The diabetes medication that could revolutionise heart failure treatment

A medication originally used for patients with diabetes is the first to help people with heart failure and could revolutionise treatment, according to new UEA...

Read more >
  News
A phone on a table with the reflection of a palm tree on it
30 Nov 2021

Locking your phone in a box can help you break free

Going cold turkey without your phone on holiday may be the key to healthier digital wellbeing, a new study from the University of East Anglia and the University...

Read more >
  News
Letters on wooden blocks spelling out the word dementia
26 Nov 2021

De-cluttering may not help people with dementia

A clutter-free environment may not help people with dementia carry out daily tasks – according to a new UEA study.

Read more >
  News
Two fruit flies facing each other on a stick of celery.
24 Nov 2021

How eating less in early life could help with reproduction later on

Switching from a restricted diet to eating as much as you like could be beneficial for reproduction in later life, according to new UEA research.

Read more >
  News
A jaguar in the Pantanal, South America
23 Nov 2021

Wildlife conservation and economically viable land use are compatible

Wildlife conservation on land that is also economically viable is possible, according to a new study involving the University of East Anglia.

Read more >
  News
02 Nov 2021

Read November issue of yoUr chEm mAg

The November edition of UEA's Chemistry Magazine is now available.

Read more >
  News
Fields in Colombia
30 Nov 2021

All systems GROW for UEA's Colombian project

This month saw the largest and most important summit of 2021, COP26. UEA made its presence felt in a number of ways, including showcasing the results of their...

Read more >