The word 'prostate' is derived from the Greek word προστάτης, 'prostates', meaning : 'protector' or 'guardian'. For many old men their prostate gland, when it turns cancerous, is instrumental in destroying rather than protecting them and kills 11,000 of them each year.
Good news then, that old men of Britain two champions in the shape of Hardev Pandha, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Surrey and Dr Richard Morgan, who have devised a test which can identify early signs of the cancer. Professor Pandha has said : "This new test could lead to faster detection that could save hundreds of lives and also offers the potential for huge cost savings."
Studies show their new urine test to be twice as reliable as the existing blood test for detecting the disease – the most common cancer among British men and a cheap, easy and accurate test could be in doctors' surgeries within months. This means it should not only save lives but also spare old men rectal examination. In addition, costing as little as £10 a patient combined with its accuracy and simplicity, it could even lead to all old having the opportunity to being screened for the disease, as women are for breast cancer.
The old blood test :
* measured levels of a protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA, but it was wrong more often than it is right.
* meant many men were subjected to the pain, worry and embarrassment of unnecessary biopsies.
* sometimes missed fledgling cancers until they have spread elsewhere in the body and were harder to treat.
The new urine test :
* dispenses with the need for needles.
* searches the urine for a protein called EN2, which is not made by healthy people but is pumped out by tumours.
* in trials, detected about 70% of prostate cancers, making it twice as accurate as the PSA test.
* shows that levels of EN2 accurately reflect the amount of cancer in the patient’s prostate gland meaning that small cancers do not require treatment and can be safely monitored, whereas larger volume cancers can be treated more promptly.
Tim Sharp, of 'The Prostate Project', which part-funded the research, said: "This is potentially the most exciting development in the diagnosis of prostate cancer for 25 years."
So, for once it's good news for many old men in Britain.
Professor Pandha and the work of the Surrey Clinical Research Centre :