• Japan’s annual economic cost of cancer is 10 trillion yen
  • Hitachi plans further development to create simple test

Hitachi Ltd. said it is developing a simple urine test to screen for cancers of the breast and colon after trials with small numbers of patients helped it identify those suffering from the disease.

The company, along with Summit Pharmaceuticals International Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., tested urine from 15 patients with breast cancer, 15 with colon cancer and 15 healthy people and identified about 10 biomarkers that allowed researchers to distinguish those with cancer, Minoru Sakairi, chief scientist at Hitachi, told reporters Tuesday in Tokyo.

Researchers will next conduct tests on a group of 200 breast cancer patients and 200 healthy people to help create a simple method to detect the disease and plans to apply for a patent, Sakairi said. In Japan, cancer causes economic losses including reduced working hours and medical expenses of approximately 10 trillion yen ($94 billion) a year, Hitachi said in a statement Tuesday.

“We’re giving priority to breast cancer,” said Sakairi. “It affects a lot of women and unlike prostate cancer it starts at an early age.”

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