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Japan Could Be First In The World To Detect Cancer Using Urine Samples

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Researchers in Japan will conduct a trial of a cancer-detecting tool that will allow people to test themselves by simply using their own urine samples.

Hitachi, a Japanese multinational conglomerate company, could be the first in the world to provide people with the most convenient means of screening for cancer. The company has created a method that would only need urine samples to detect whether a person has the deadly disease. Specifically, the method is designed to test for breast and colon cancer.

Chiharu Odaira, the spokesman for Hitachi, says they will test the method using 250 urine samples. They would like to initially find out if these samples can derive accurate results even after being stored at room temperature.

Aside from making cancer screening convenient for people, the method, if proven to be successful, would be particularly advantageous for small children with cancer. Young children are commonly traumatized by needles used during cancer screening.

Ultimately, the method will allow all people to detect cancer at its early stage even without the intervention of a medical organization.

Early Detection Of Cancer Symptoms

Hitachi has begun developing the technology two years ago when its researchers realized that the definitive weapon against the disease is its early detection.

In a paper published in November 2017, Hitachi explains that one out of two people in Japan is being diagnosed with cancer. However, even with this concerning statistic, many Japanese are reluctant to undergo regular screening due to a busy schedule. They also tend to dismiss regular check-ups because cancer generally lacks symptoms at an early stage.

With this observed attitude from people, Hitachi realizes the need for a technology that will detect cancer without having them go to a medical facility, and urine is the only substance that people can acquire by themselves.

Novel Way Of Assessing Risk Of Cancer Through Urine Samples

Further research revealed that there were no precedents for cancer testing using urine. No countries in the world have tried the specimen for use in cancer screening. This comes as striking for the Hitachi researchers since urine contains metabolites or substances that are products of metabolism.

Consequently, they began analysis of urine from cancer patients that are donated from an international institution.

The urine samples used in the analysis revealed 1,300 metabolites, of which 30 can be considered as biomarkers or substances that indicate progress and existence of a certain disease.

"Using 30 biomarkers from among these, a look at their measured values for 15 cases each of breast cancer patients, colorectal cancer patients, and healthy subjects showed that we had made a breakthrough in being able to discriminate the difference between cancer and not cancer," says Minoru Sakairi, chief scientist at Hitachi's Center for Exploratory Research, of the Research & Development Group.

This analysis paved the way for the upcoming experiment.

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