Urothelial cancers of the bladder and upper urinary tract are among the most common cancers encountered worldwide. In the United States, urothelial cancers are among the most costly cancers to treat. With early diagnosis, followed by surgery, most urothelial cancers can be cured. Now an international team of cancer researchers including Kate Dickman, PhD, of the Department of Pharmacological Sciences and Medicine/Nephrology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine have developed a highly sensitive and specific non-invasive test as a biomarker for early detection of urothelial cancers. Details of this method known as UroSEEK, are published in eLife.
UroSEEK identifies genetic errors in cells shed into urine. The analysis scans for mutations in 11 cancer driver genes associated with urinary tract cancer and for evidence of chromosomal imbalance.
In the study, the researchers found that of 570 patients at risk for bladder cancer, UroSEEK tested positive in 83 percent of those who developed bladder cancer. The detection rate increased to 95 percent when urine cytology and UroSEEK were used in combination. They found also that of 56 patients with upper tract urothelial cancer, 75 percent tested positive by UroSEEK. In the future, the researchers say, UroSEEK will be applied to large patient populations to screen for bladder and upper urothelial cancer.