Non-tumour tissue could be used to diagnose prostate cancer, a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research has reported.

Researchers at University of California, Irvine, analysed 364 samples from men who had biopsies for possible prostate cancer, men who had prostatectomies to remove cancer and control prostates from donors who had died from other causes.

Researchers observed changes in the nearby non-tumour tissue, which indicated the presence of a tumour.

In addition, researchers were able to detect the changes in gene expression in normal tissue up to a few millimetres from prostate cancer.

If the study is developed, physicians could detect changes in non-tumour tissue that indicate the presence of a tumour, which could allow patients to be given a follow-up biopsy sooner.

According to researchers, further studies will be required to confirm the findings, and before urologists will likely be able to use a diagnosis based on non-tumour tissue for recommending surgery or other radical treatment.