A new method is intended to facilitate the diagnosis of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death in men in Germany. Early diagnosis can significantly improve the prognosis. Currently, however, men have to undergo a painful procedure that is itself associated with risks. A German research team is currently developing a method with which prostate cancer can be diagnosed using a urine sample.
Researchers at the University of Witten / Herdecke present a new examination method for prostate cancer that can improve safety and comfort for those affected. The aim is to replace the so-called transrectal punch biopsy, in which tissue samples are taken from the prostate, with a simple urine sample. The process was recently presented in the renowned specialist journal “Plos One”.
How is prostate cancer currently diagnosed?
If prostate cancer is suspected, the standard procedure is a transrectal punch biopsy. This small procedure is not only painful for those affected, but also associated with a low risk of complications such as prostate inflammation or the formation of blood clots in the bladder. Nevertheless, this procedure is currently indispensable in order to reliably diagnose prostate cancer and differentiate it from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which also occurs frequently.
Urine test saves diagnostic intervention
The working group around Lukas Markert and Dr. Andreas Savelsbergh from the University of Witten / Herdecke (UW / H) has now developed the basis for a new procedure in which small fragments of genetic material from the urine can be used to differentiate between the two diseases. For this purpose, micro-RNAs (miRNA) and piwi-interacting-RNAs (piRNAs) are obtained from the patient’s urine sample and amplified.
Read out genetic information in urine
These short genetic information molecules regulate the copying and transport of genetic information, but cannot translate proteins themselves. In specialized laboratories, the miRNA and piRNAs can be read using a process called “next-generation sequencing”, which allows conclusions to be drawn about the presence of prostate cancer.
The researchers analyzed over 2,500 of these small RNAs and discovered a pattern in them. The data was independently scoured by machine learning algorithms developed for this purpose. “If the composition of the urine changes, it seems to speak for or against prostate cancer,” reports Lukas Markert. This could establish itself as a helpful diagnostic criterion in urology.
Pain-free and risk-free
The new form of diagnosis is both pain-free and risk-free. “We are pleased with the clear results of our investigation and hope that they can soon be used,” emphasizes Markert. However, he points out that the foundation stone for the new method has only been laid. Before it can be used widely, the method must be tested on a larger group of patients. (vb)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Lukas Markert, Jonas Holdmann, Claudia Klinger, et al.: Small RNAs as biomarkers to differentiate benign and malign prostate diseases: An alternative for transrectal punch biopsy of the prostate? , journals.plos.org
- University of Witten / Herdecke: New procedure could make diagnostics for prostate cancer much easier (published: 25.03.2021), uni-wh.de
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.