A simple urine test that detects bladder cancer at a treatable stage may be used to help diagnose prostate and some of the other cancers that afflict nearly a million Americans annually, researchers say.

The test detects a protein associated with the spread of tumors, said Dr. Raouf Guirguis of the National Cancer Institute. The protein also has been found in patients with kidney cancer, prostate cancer and a nervous system cancer called neuroblastoma."It seems to be in all the cancers we have screened," Guirguis said.

Existing tests to diagnose bladder cancer, involving removal of tissue, pose risk, are often painful and sometimes do not detect the cancer until it has spread and can no longer be cured, the cancer institute said.

But Guirguis, Elliott Schiffman and colleagues, whose study is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, said their test can identify bladder cancer at an early, treatable stage.

They said they do not yet know whether the test will identify cancers other than bladder cancer at an early enough stage for them to be effectively treated.

Cancer will strike 985,000 Americans this year, according to the American Cancer Society. About 49 percent of cancer patients survive five years after diagnosis.

More than 49,000 Americans get bladder cancer each year and about 10,000 die annually, the cancer institute said. The five-year survival rate is 77 percent.