A simple urine test could detect early stage cancers of the gut, stomach and pancreas, suggests a new research.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have identified key proteins in the urine of patients with advanced cancers.
The findings could help the detection of these cancers in people who have not yet started to show symptoms of the disease.
This would enable patients to be diagnosed much earlier, leading to improved survival rates.
Only around 10 per cent of patients with these cancers - known as cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract - are still alive five years after diagnosis.
This is because such cancers, which tend to be aggressive, are often diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Dr Holger Husi, of the University of Edinburgh's Tissue Injury and Repair Group, said: "The aim of this work is to enable these cancers to be diagnosed much earlier. This would help us to treat the cancer before it has a chance to spread. The majority of these cancers are currently diagnosed late where no surgery is possible due to its advanced stage. Earlier diagnosis would mean that curative surgery or chemotherapy would be possible for more patients."
The research is published in the journal Proteomics-Clinical Applications.