Urine Test as an Early Detection for Kidney Cancer

According to a new study, urine test shows promise for early detection of kidney cancer.

Dr. Ketan Badani, professor of urology at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, said that this study is a significant discovery because there is no proper screening mechanism for kidney cancer.

Dr. Evan Kharasch, professor of anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine led the research. He noted that patients who get an early diagnosis before the tumor spreads have high survival rate (about 80%). But, patients who do not get a diagnosis on time before the tumor spreads, most of them die within five years. Therefore, the biggest challenge is finding the disease before it has spread, the scientists said.

Kidney cancer is usually found by accident, when a patient has an MRI or CT scan. Using such scans as a screening method is costly, so scientists aim to develop a urine test to find kidney cancer early.

Kharasch and his team discovered that measuring levels of two proteins in urine was over 95% correct in finding kidney cancer at an early stage. Urine samples from 720 patients who have had abdominal CT were analyzed. Also, urine samples from 19 individuals previously diagnosed with kidney cancer and 80 healthy people were analyzed. The samples were tested for levels of the proteins perlipin-2 (PLIN2) and aquaporin-1 (AQP1). Healthy people didn’t have higher levels of either protein, but higher levels of both proteins were found in kidney cancer patients. Three of the 720 individuals who had abdominal CT scans demonstrated high proteins levels. According to the discoveries published in the journal JAMA Oncology, two of them were diagnosed with kidney cancer later on. The third person died before a diagnosis was made.

Badani noted that more study is needed. He said that a screening test based on urine would be a useful and easy way to find kidney cancer in patients and improve diagnosis process for both patients and doctors. However, to confirm these findings, scientists will need to conduct bigger studies with more individuals from different racial and geographic populations.

Study results are great news but if confirmed in bigger studies, this progress will improve the diagnosis of this cancer by a simple procedure, taking a single urine sample. Many researchers are eager to see these biomarkers a part of everyday medical practice.

About 62,000 people a year are diagnosed with kidney cancer in the United States and about 14,000 people die of kidney cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.


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