Prostate Cancer News 2016: 'Electronic Nose' Device Can Smell, Detect Cancer In Urine

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Feb 13, 2016 06:01 AM EST

(Photo : Getty Images)

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have inched closer to developing a more accurate diagnostic test using a gas chromatography sensor system called Odoreader that functions like an electronic nose that could smell cancer in men's urine.

In the United States alone, more than 177,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, and 27,244 of whom have lost their lives. Prostate cancer is currently the most common type of cancer in male, not counting non-melanoma skin cancer and the number one cause of cancer-related death among men in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

"There is an urgent need to identify these cancers at an earlier stage when they are more treatable as the earlier a person is diagnosed the better. After further sample testing the next step is to take this technology and put it into a user friendly format," said Professor Chris Probert from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Translational Medicine.

The findings of the study, conducted in collaboration with the University of the West of England's (UWE Bristol) Urological Institute team at Southmead Hospital and Bristol Royal Infirmary, was published in the Journal of Breath Research, according to a EurekAlert! news release from the University of Liverpool.

It involved 155 men -- 58 were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 24 with bladder cancer and 73 with haematuria (presence of blood in urine) but without cancer. The Odoreader was able to detect cancer through an algorithm developed by the research team when urine samples are inserted into the device, Fox News also reported.

"The positioning of the prostate gland, which is very close to the bladder, gives the urine profile a different algorithm if the man has cancer," added study co-author Norman Ratcliffe, a material and sensor sciences professor at the University of the West of England.

According to Raj Prasad, Consultant Urologist at Southmead Hospital, North Bristol NHS Trust, this is a significant step towards more accurate prostate cancer diagnostics that could have a huge impact among men.

A urine test that could produce more accurate results can save men from undergoing prostate biopsy due to current indicators like diagnosed prostatomegaly, or enlarged prostate, and unusually high PSA levels.

"If this test succeeds at full medical trial it will revolutionise diagnostics. Even with detailed template biopsies there is a risk that we may fail to detect prostate cancer in some cases," he said.


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