The first reliable test for prostate cancer could be available within months, British scientists have said.
Professor Robert Winston has hailed the 'exciting discovery', which is the culmination of three years of research at the University of Surrey.
A version of the test kit suitable for home use is also in development, which like a pregnancy test, could provide results from just a few drops of urine within minutes. It is expected to cost less than 100 pounds, reports the Daily Mail.
The current blood test measures levels of a protein made by the prostate, but false positive and negative results mean that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is wrong more often that it is right.
At present, many men are subjected to painful, embarrassing and unnecessary tests, while in other cases fledgling cancers are missed until they have spread to other parts of the body and are much harder to treat.
The new test looks for the production of a different protein, called EN2, and initial studies show it to be much more accurate.
In trials on 288 men it detected up to 70 per cent of cancers, making it roughly twice as good as the PSA test.
Importantly, it gave false positive results just 4 per cent of the time - 10 times less often than the PSA test, according to the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
Focusing on urine rather than blood also has the advantage of dispensing with needles.
Larger-scale trials on thousands of British and American men are under way, and if the test fulfils its initial promise it could be available in private clinics by the end of this year.