Life-saving spit test could identify prostate cancer risk - for just £7

A test that uses spit samples to predict which men are at greatest risk of prostate cancer could save hundreds of lives every year, say health experts.The genetic test,  which should cost between £7 and £10, allows doctors to identify the 1 per cent of men at highest risk of developing the disease, which affects nearly 50,000 UK men every year.

Doctors hope that in two years, GPs will be able to test all men on their 40th birthday.

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These patients identified as being 'at risk' would then be given advice, as well as MRI scans and biopsies if necessary, meaning that any potential tumours could be spotted early and treated accordingly.

Scientists studied more than 140,000 men from 52 different countries and discovered 63 new variations in the DNA code that increase the chances of prostate cancer.

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The 1 per cent at highest risk face a 50-50 chance of getting the disease '“ more than five times higher than average.

Those in the top 10 per cent face a one in four chance, being 2.7 times more at risk.

Pilot study

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The Institute of Cancer Research in London, is currently running a pilot study with 300 men at three general practices in London.

Prostate cancer affects nearly 50,000 men in the UK each year

Following analysis of their spit samples, high-risk patients will be given MRI scans and biopsies.

If the trial is deemed a success, a larger trial will take place, before, a potential roll-out across the country.

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Professor Ros Eeles, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:  'This test could save lives and money by helping to identify prostate cancer early, when it is easier and cheaper to treat.

'If trials prove successful, doctors could test all men at the age of 40 to see if they are at heightened risk and then screen and treat them appropriately.'

The ICR's chief executive, Professor Paul Workman added: 'This new research is another big step forward.

'We are on the cusp of moving from theory to practice '“ from explaining how genetics affects prostate cancer risk, to testing for genetic risk and attempting to prevent the disease.'