According to University College London (UCL) researchers, a new test for bladder cancer could enable doctors to analyze a urine sample and spare patients the discomfort of a cystoscopy.

The researchers, led by Professor John Kelly and Dr Andy Feber (UCL Cancer Institute), identified a panel of DNA alterations which are highly specific to bladder cancer. The team found that the "UroMark" test, when used on DNA from urine, detected bladder cancer with a high degree of accuracy (98% of cases). The study was carried out on 300 patients.

Normally, patients with blood in their urine are sent to hospital for tests, which include a cystoscopy. The procedure passes an instrument along the water pipe or urethra to inspect the bladder. UCL's new test will avoid the need for cystoscopy for many patients.

The UK Medical Research Council has awarded £1.42 million for two larger trials, which are currently underway across 32 hospitals. The trials will confirm the accuracy of UroMark before it becomes widely available for clinical use.