Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA Doctors are able to spot signs of prostate cancer with a simple urine test

Doctors are able to spot signs of prostate cancer with a simple but highly accurate urine test to avoid unnecessary invasive biopsies.

The test can detect two markers of the cancer found in urine - levels of which have shown to be eight times higher in men who have the disease.

Scientists claim it could prevent 41% of unnecessary biopsies, and it is 98% accurate in distinguishing men who do not have the disease from those who do.

Researchers at the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands reported that the test, known as SelectMDx, is more effective at detecting biomarkers of prostate cancer, than the current, commonly used blood test and biopsy combination. It is also capable of distinguishing between chemical markers of low grade, and potentially fatal, aggressive prostate cancer.

Every year in Britain, prostate cancer claims 10 000 lives. The disease is difficult to spot early, given that symptoms - pain when urinating and frequent, urgent trips to the lavatory - tend to arise only when the tumour has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra.

There is no universal screening, but many men opt for a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate, and concentrations in the blood often increase if someone has prostate cancer.

If high PSA levels are detected, men can be referred for a biopsy, during which up to 20 samples of tissue are taken from the prostate to be examined. - Mail on Sunday