"A paper strip can sample urine for signs of tumors in the body. The cancer-detecting strip could one day make it simpler and more affordable to detect some cancers at an early stage. Unlike communicable infections like HIV and tuberculosis, signals from tumor proteins are difficult to detect. To get around that problem, the researchers created nano-scale biomarkers that can be injected into the bloodstream. Each marker is designed to interact with specific proteins that are produced by cancer cells. When the two meet, the proteins snip off tiny fragments of the marker. Those fragments eventually find their way into the urine. The test works like a pregnancy test; a person urinates on a paper strip coated with antibodies that can detect the marker fragments. If the fragments are present, the paper displays a line indicating the presence of cancer tissue in the body. Altogether, the process takes about an hour."
[ED Note: Link is to an abstract. PDF with more detailed info here.]
If you read the article (yeah I know, you're not supposed to do that), it's quite clear that it's not just a urine sample. What happens is that 'nano-scale biomarkers' (whatever those may be) are injected in your blood stream. Those marker react with any cancer cells in your body (if any), and the results of that reaction are measurable in urine. As a test, that coincides with the conventional wisdom that by the time the cancer is measurable in your urine (or your blood), it has already spread.
The interesting question of course would be what the price of such a test would be, what it's success/failure rate are, and eventually, if this can prevent or early-detect enough cancers to be cost effective. As an example, doctors are now getting more and more convinced that regular breast X-rays to find breast cancer are becoming useless, mostly because most women are now alert enough to find any lumps before they become life threatening (and because breast cancer death rates have been falling sharply due to better treatments).
The interesting question of course would be what the price of such a test would be
No info on the injectable part, but some info on the companion test in the linked PDF:
Companion Diagnostic Cost Analyses.
Approximate costs for
materials and labor costs to produce LFAs were based on estimates from a technical document by LFA materials'
manufacturer Bangs Laboratories (5). The majority of costs are packaging
and assembly, and the major variable costs are due to the specific
antibodies used and region of manufacture, resulting in a raw
material cost of roughly $0.60 and an assembled product cost
of less than $2.
Money is always the thing. Healthcare as business is always in the mix. Can't just evaluate the science anymore...
It's not the cancer cells that are measured in the urine, just the byproducts of the reagent with the cancer cells.
The article states the major costs are packaging and assembly so that part is schweet!