Referral bypass worries specialists

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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Two Christchurch urologists have words of caution about the marketing of a urine test for detection of bladder cancer direct to patients.

This week Dunedin biotech Pacific Edge said it would launch an online booking system where people with blood in their urine could order a test without needing a referral from GPs or other specialists.

Pacific Edge has been developing its Cxbladder test for a decade and bought the technology from Otago University.

It says the direct sales to consumers will give them some control over their health and that this is part of the evolution to "personal medicine".

Urologists Stephen Mark and Peter Davidson say consumers should be cautious.

They say haematuria (blood in the urine) has a number of causes, of which bladder cancer is only one.

"Cxbladder may help with the detection of bladder cancer, but does not rule out the other causes of haematuria and therefore does not take away the need for standard testing."

And that was implied in Pacific Edge's press release, the urologists say. The release said: "There are many New Zealanders who are aware that there is a technology available that can complement or provide an alternative to the standard invasive tests".

Mark and Davidson say Cxbladder has not been tested in a community setting, nor has the concept of direct to patient marketing of the Cxbladder test been widely discussed with urologists, the specialists who look after the investigation of haematuria and treatment of bladder cancer.

They are concerned patients may think the Cxbladder test is all that is required.

"As such the urological community are concerned that patients who are not fully informed about the implications of haematuria and Cxbladder testing may take false reassurance from this test.

"Even in the event of a normal Cxbladder test, patients are encouraged to still see their general practitioners if they have blood in the urine, to both discuss the implications of the haematuria and to ensure appropriate investigation," Mark and Davidson say.

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