A urine test to help diagnose pancreatic cancer could detect the disease much earlier than at present, according to scientists from the UK and Spain.

The simple urine test is capable of identifying a protein ‘signature’ which is only present in people with the disease. The test has been welcomed by cancer charities for the chances of early diagnosis that it offers and in turn the chances of increasing survival rate of patients.

Around 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in the UK. Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose as there are not many symptoms in the early stages and only three percent of patients survive five years after diagnosis, the lowest five-year survival rate of any common cancer.

Michael Burrell, a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Birmingham office, said: “At present, people suffering from pancreatic cancer are usually diagnosed when it is already at a terminal stage. Transforming the way pancreatic cancer is diagnosed is key if we are to see improved survival rates for this devastating form of cancer.

Delays in diagnosis for any type of cancer can have grave consequences for patients and the recent increase in innovative ways of testing for cancer at an earlier stage can only improve cancer patients' prognosis.”