New test to ‘smell’ prostate cancer in the offing

Friday, Feb 12, 2016,17:15 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

London | Scientists are creating a diagnostic test which uses a special tool to ‘smell’ prostrate cancer in urine, an advance that could spell end for invasive diagnostic procedures that men currently undergo.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in UK conducted the study on 155 men in urology clinics. Out of them, 58 were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 24 with bladder cancer and 73 with haematuria or poor stream without cancer.

The results of the study indicated that it is able to successfully identify different patterns of volatile compounds that allow classification of urine samples from patients with urological cancers. 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, said Chris Probert from University of Liverpool.

Researchers used a gas chromatography sensor system called Odoreader. The test involved inserting urine samples into the Odoreader that are then measured using algorithms. The Odoreader has a 30 metre column that enables the compounds in the urine to travel through at different rates thus breaking the sample into a readable format.

This is then translated into an algorithm enabling detection of cancer by reading the patterns presented. 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.

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, said Raj Prasad from Southmead Hospital.

Currently indicators such as diagnosed prostatomegaly (enlarged prostate) and unusually high PSA levels can lead to recommendations for biopsy if there is a concern that cancer may be prevalent. An accurate urine test would mean that many men who currently undergo prostate biopsy may not need to do so, he added.