According to BCI researchers, a combination of three proteins at high levels in urine can accurately detect early-stage pancreatic cancer.

Lead researcher Dr Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic said: "We’ve always been keen to develop a diagnostic test in urine as it has several advantages over using blood."

The study included 488 urine samples, comprising 192 from patients with pancreatic cancer, 92 from patients with chronic pancreatitis and 87 from healthy volunteers.

In the study, an additional 117 samples from patients with other benign and malignant liver and bladder conditions were also included for further validation.

Around 1,500 proteins were found in the urine samples, of which three proteins LYVE1, REG1A and TFF1 were selected for closer examination based on biological information and performance in statistical analysis.

According to researchers, patients with pancreatic cancer were observed to have increased levels of each of the three proteins compared against urine samples from healthy patients, while patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis had significantly lower levels than cancer patients.

When combined, the three proteins organized a panel that can detect patients with stages I-II pancreatic cancer with over 90% accuracy.

Image: The new non-invasive and inexpensive test will help to screen people at high risk of developing early stage pancreatic cancer. Photo: courtesy of Barts Cancer Institute.