A team of British researchers has developed a new diagnostic tool that can detect prostate cancer by virtue of “smelling” the cancerous cells in the urine of patients.
Reports indicate that about 28,000 men of American origin succumbed to the deadly prostate cancer in 2015. According to Prof. Norman Ratcliffe from the University of West England, there are no current available accurate prostate cancer tests. Ratcliffe argues that the fluctuations of the PSA test – which is commonly used in the detection of prostate cancer – may sometimes lead to unnecessary biopsies. This can then result in the probable risk of infection, psychological stress and missing the expected results.
This development could be good news for the African-American men and those with the family history of the disease. This is because the National Cancer Institute statistics indicate that they are most vulnerable or rather poised at a greater risk of contracting prostate cancer.
The Odoreader device
The newly developed prostate cancer diagnostic device dubbed “Odoreader”, identifies compounds in the urine samples and analyzes them for possible cancerous cells. Ideally, it is a gas chromatography sensor that operates like an “electric nose”. The patients’ urine samples are placed into the device where cancer would be detected through a running algorithm.
Norman Ratcliffe, who was the study author, explains that urine sample is used because of the proximity of the urinary bladder to the prostate gland. This gives the device’s algorithm a higher probability of detecting likely cancerous cells in the male body from the analyzed urine sample.
Study based on results from 155 men
In the study, Norman Ratcliffe together with other researchers drawn from the University of Liverpool used the device to sample urine from 155 men at various urology clinics. These male patients were having symptoms that were related to cancer. From their findings, which were published in the Journal of Breath Research, 58 out of these men were identified to be having prostate cancer. 73 were diagnosed with hematuria (presence of blood in the urine) but without cancer whereas the remaining 24 were diagnosed with bladder cancer.
From these results, it was concluded that Odoreader had 95 percent sensitivity in the detection of prostate cancer with a specificity of 96 percent. For the bladder cancer, the device was noted to have sensitivity and specificity accuracy of 96 percent and 100 percent respectively. These results clearly indicate the efficiency, accuracy, and success of the newly developed Odoreader.
During the release of these findings, Raj Prasad who is a consultant urologist at Southmead Hospital acknowledged that if this study undergoes full medical trial, then diagnosis methods will be revolutionized for the better.