Birmingham scientists have created a simple blood test that could save thousands of lives by identifying men at high risk of prostate cancer years before it develops.
The test, made by researchers at the University of Birmingham, will provide 90 per cent accuracy and could be available within the next 18 months.
Current techniques miss around 25 per cent of cases of prostate cancer which is the most common form of the disease in men.
Late diagnosis is the principle cause of 11,000 deaths every year.
Current testing measures the levels of a protein in the blood called prostate specific antigen, or PSA, and patients have to wait around two weeks for the results. But the new method means men will find out within minutes if they are at risk.
Professor Paula Mendes, who led the research, said: "The current test for prostate cancer scans the body for all types of PSAs.
"However, there are specific types which give a more accurate indication of the likelihood of prostate cancer developing.
"Our test identifies the specific PSA structures that are related to a strong likelihood of prostate cancer existing and this can be identified many years before the disease develops.
"The detection process allows for a simple sample of blood to be taken for diagnosis. A few drops of blood from a pin prick will give a far more accurate diagnosis. We expect an accuracy rate of 90 per cent from our procedure.
"Currently patients have to wait around two weeks for their results and this waiting can prove to be very stressful."
Dr John Fossey, who is working along with Professor Mendes on the breakthrough, added: "With this process men will receive their diagnosis within minutes which means, if the cancer is detected early, the cancer can be treated earlier with the result that survival rates will dramatically increase."
The survival rate for men suffering from prostate cancer has increased over the past 40 years.
Last year, 41,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with around 11,000 men dying from the disease.
Professor Mendes said: "The process developed in our laboratories will improve those survival rates and save lives."