Japanese scientists are developing a URINE TEST to detect breast, bowel and childhood cancers

  • Engineering company Hitachi will analyse 250 urine samples for tumours
  • Method will avoid invasive blood tests, which are often disliked by children
  • Technology detects waste materials in urine samples that ‘biomark’ cancers
  • Spokesman claims method could save lives and allow early cancer detection
  • Diagnosis technique may be available in 2020; experiments start this month 

Scientists are developing a test that detects cancers from patient urine samples.

The engineering company Hitachi, which developed the technology two years ago, will analyse 250 urine samples for breast, colon and childhood forms of the disease alongside Nagoya University in central Japan.

Company spokesman Chiharu Odaira said: ‘If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organisation for a blood test.’

He added small children will particularly benefit from the diagnosis method, which may be available in 2020, due to them often being afraid of needles.

The technology works by detecting waste materials in urine samples that act as ‘biomarkers’ for forms of the disease, according to a Hitachi statement.

It aims to improve early cancer detection, save lives, and reduce the medical and social costs of treatment, according to Mr Odaira.

Experiments assessing the accuracy of the method are due to start later this month and end in September.

Scientists are developing a test that detects cancers from patient urine samples (stock)


Tumours can be benign or cancerous (malignant).

Benign tumours usually grow quite slowly, do not spread and have a covering made up of normal cells.

Such growths only cause problems if:

  • They become become very large
  • Are painful or uncomfortable
  • Are unpleasant to look at
  • Press on the body’s organs
  • Take up space within the skull
  • Release hormones that affect how the body works

Malignant tumours typically:

  • Are made up of cancer cells
  • Grow faster
  • Spread to surrounding tissue
  • Enter other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymph nodes

Tumours get bigger as cells continue to divide, which stimulates the development of blood vessels to ‘feed’ it oxygen and nutrients.

Such growths may move into new areas by putting pressure on surrounding regions, using enzymes to break down cells or entering via tissues.

Source: Cancer Research UK 

‘We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s’

Speaking of when the diagnosis method may be available, Odaira said: ‘We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities.’

This comes after research published earlier this year suggested a new blood test detects eight different kinds of tumours before they spread elsewhere in the body.

Breast-cancer diagnoses typically involve a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected, while colon-cancer screenings generally involve a stool test and then a colonoscopy, if necessary.

Controversial plans to grow human organs inside animals are set to go ahead in Japan

This comes after news released yesterday suggested controversial plans to grow human organs inside animals have moved one step closer to going ahead in Japan.

Government officials in the Asian country are expected to overturn the ban on the practice by the autumn, according to local reports.

An expert panel, commissioned by Japanese ministers, concluded that such experiments could lead to major scientific breakthroughs.

The practice, which has prompted furious backlash from animal-rights campaigners in recent years, is already allowed for research purposes in the UK and US.

Certain biologists have left Japan to pursue such experiments, which critics consider ‘gruesome’, across the Pacific Ocean.

Some believe creating human organs in animals, such as pigs, could stem the growing transplant shortage.

On average, 20 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Animal-welfare campaigners warn such experiments echo the fictional thriller ‘Never Let Me Go’.

In the novel, adapted for the hit 2010 movie, a group of English children are cloned so that, as young adults, their organs can be used for transplants.


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