If kidney cancer is diagnosed early — before it spreads — 80 percent of patients survive. However, finding it early has been among the disease’s greatest challenges.
Now, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a noninvasive method to screen for kidney cancer that involves measuring the presence of proteins in the urine.
The findings are reported March 19 in the journal JAMA Oncology.
The researchers found that the protein biomarkers were more than 95 percent accurate in identifying early-stage kidney cancers. In addition, there were no false positives caused by non-cancerous kidney disease.
“These biomarkers are very sensitive and specific to kidney cancer,” said senior author Evan D. Kharasch, MD, PhD.
Kidney cancer is the seventh most common cancer in men and the 10th most common in women, affecting about 65,000 people each year in the United States. About 14,000 patients die of the disease annually.
Like most cancers, kidney tumors are easier to treat when diagnosed early. But symptoms of the disease, such as blood in the urine and abdominal pain, often don’t develop until later, making early diagnosis difficult.