A simple urine test could save lives of prostate cancer sufferers, new research supported by the Irish Cancer Society has shown.
Researchers at University College Dublin (UCD) have led the development of a new test which uses urine to pick up signs of prostate cancer.
Studies have so far shown the test to be 70pc more specific for prostate cancer compared with the blood test currently used.
If the new "epiCaPture" test is further validated, it could help to more accurately identify which men do or don't need invasive tests. This means that many men could be spared harsh treatments that often have long-term side effects.
The test could also help to identify aggressive prostate cancer early, so more patients can be potentially cured of their cancer.
Among those who have welcomed the research is retired accountant Tom Hope (71), from Dunboyne, Co Meath, who was diagnosed as having "low grade" prostate cancer in 2009, at the age of 62.
He told the Herald he believes the new research marks a "breakthrough" in testing for the disease.
Mr Hope said that his own diagnosis came as "a total shock to myself, as I had no symptoms or any difficulty with my urinary function".
Mr Hope said he was given the option of surgery to remove the prostate, which carried a risk of incontinence, or active surveillance, which involved getting a blood test and visiting the urologist every six months.
After talking over the options with his wife, the father-of-three decided to follow an active surveillance plan, and remains in good health nearly 10 years later.
This research was part of an international collaboration led by Dr Antoinette Perry, assistant professor of cell biology and genetics at the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and the UCD Conway Institute, and her team,
Dr Robert O'Connor, head of cancer research at the Irish Cancer Society, said: "This major new research highlights the vital work world-class cancer researchers are doing in UCD and across Ireland to identify new ways to improve the diagnosis of cancer.
"More work is needed before the potential benefits reach cancer patients. But it does show the potential we have to save more lives from this disease."
He was speaking in advance of the charity's annual Daffodil Day fundraiser this Friday.