Researchers pursue urine test for adrenal cancer

University of Birmingham researchers have developed a urine test that allows endocrinologists to differentiate between benign and cancerous adrenal gland tumors. The university's joint venture company, called Bioscience Ventures, will market the test.

Chromatography Techniques notes that 2% of the United Kingdom's population has adrenal gland tumors, some of which are cancerous. Because of the gland's location deep in the body, imaging and biopsies may be ineffective for distinguishing between harmless and malignant growths. Adrenal cancer is usually discovered after tumors have spread in to other areas of the body, leaving little hope for survival.

The test uses gas chromatography mass spectrometry to detect steroids released into the urine by the adrenal glands. The results are profiled to reveal whether tumors are harmless or malignant. "This is the first urine test for this application; we can detect the 'hormone fingerprint' of a tumor and diagnose cancer faster and more efficiently than with costly imaging procedures," lead researcher Prof. Wiebke Arlt tells Chromatography Techniques.

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