Using Urine Odor for Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Noninvasively
A device known as Odoreader can accurately detect signs of prostate cancer by essentially “sniffing out” urine. Scientists at University of Liverpool in conjunction with University of the West of England in Bristol originally developed Odoreader in 2013 to analyze urine samples for bladder cancer by examining odors in the specimen. Researchers claim 100 percent were accurately diagnosed with bladder cancer in 98 urine samples using this method. Now, this technique is being adapted to noninvasively diagnose prostate cancer.
Current prostate cancer screenings include measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men through a blood test, which are not specific to prostate cancer. Elevated PSA levels can also indicate prostatitis (inflamed prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. PSA levels above 4.0 ng/mL are considered high and a prostate biopsy is usually performed to confirm cancer diagnosis. Over time, scientists have found PSA measurements revealed too many false-positives, as well as false-negatives, to be used as a reliable screening method, not to mention unnecessary prostate biopsies were performed as a result.
Odoreader is a machine that uses gas chromatography to analyze odors emitted in urine. A mix of heated tin and zin oxide is used as a detector in the column (in the gas chromatography oven) and heats the liquid urine sample into a gas. As the gas moves along the 98-feet column, adsorption rate varies by molecules found in the sample, which is used to identify cancer cells by comparing the readings to an algorithm. Results are displayed on a computer screen within 30 minutes.
Urine samples from 155 men were analyzed using Odoreader and diagnosed 58 men with prostate cancer, 24 men with bladder cancer, and 73 men as having a weak stream with hematuria (blood in urine) without cancer. Accuracy rate of diagnosing prostate cancer was 90 percent and over 95 percent for bladder cancer, compared to PSA screenings which amount to 65-75 percent accuracy.
If Odoreader passes clinical trials, using urine odor for cancer diagnosis will be hot on the heels of urologists and save several men from undergoing needless painful prostate biopsies.