Urine test: possible replacement for screening of metastasized colorectal cancer

February 2020 Healthy Living Oumaima Aajoud
Test tubes with chemical samples in a jar, scientist working in the background

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. The worldwide incidence is estimated at 1.2 million.  Although a few treatment options are available, surgery is the only curative treatment. After surgery, 25-40% of the patients experience liver metastases. Since early recognition is beneficial for survival, patients are followed up for 2 years. The current techniques for follow-up include a CT-scan, ultrasound and laboratory test. Unfortunately, these tests are not 100% reliable. Some cases of metastases are still missed.

Dr. Nick van der Huizen is recently promoted at the Erasmus University. His research suggests that the urine of patients with colorectal liver metastases contains elevated levels of collagen proteins. Collagen is essential in the structure and solidity of cells. Since a tumour is capable of breaking down collagen, more proteins are disposed in the blood. The products of breakdown, called peptides, are hereafter excreted in the urine.

The ease of such an urine test means that patients are able to hand in this urine sample at their general practitioner. Visiting the hospital for screening after surgery is therefore unnecessary. It is understandable that most patients would prefer this. However, further research is necessary to confirm this promising result. When sufficient evidence is available, this test can be standardized within a timeframe of 5 years, according to dr. Van der Huizen.


Erasmus MC

American journal of cancer research