New diagnostic tool for prostate cancer passes the “smell” test

New device analyzes odor in urine to diagnose prostate cancer.

British researchers say they have developed an non-invasive test for the detection of prostate cancer in men by analyzing the odor compounds in the urine of the subjects, according to Fox News.

Approximately 28,000 American men lost their lives to prostate cancer in 2015 alone, and the new test method gives hope to future sufferers, particularly in those with a history of prostate cancer in their families, and also in African-American men, groups that seem to have a greater risk of contracting the disease.

A news release by study author, Norman Ratcliff, a material and sensor sciences professor at the University of West Virginia, the urine profile of a cancer patient is different from others due to the positioning of the prostate gland near the bladder.  An Odoreader, a gas chromatography sensor that senses different patterns of compounds in the urine, can run different algorithms that can detect the presence of cancer when a urine sample is tested with the device.

The researchers tested the device on 155 men who were patients at urology clinics, and found that 58 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Additionally, 24 were diagnosed with bladder cancer, and 73 more suffered from haematuria, or poor stream.  The findings indicated the odor evaluation test was successful at detecting the compounds that were associated with cancer.

Raj Prasad, consultant urologist at Southmead Hospital, of the North Bristol NHS Trust, said the new procedure would revolutionize diagnostics, if the test succeeded at a full medical trial, and added an accurate diagnosis by the device would mean many men that would currently have to have a biopsy performed to confirm the disease may not have to go through the procedure.

Prasad was involved with the study, which was conducted by Ratcliff and researchers from the University of Liverpool, and published in the Journal of Breath Research on Thursday.

Currently, an enlarged prostate and unusually high PSA levels can lead to recommendations for a biopsy, if there are cancer concerns in the patient.  A quicker, non-invasive test could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for those with the disease.

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