Electronic Nose Can Sniff Out Prostate Cancer

A new device can sniff out prostrate cancer from urine samples.
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A new device can sniff out prostrate cancer from urine samples.
cancer sniffing dogs

Photo Credit: CNN

A recent study found that trained detection dogs could detect prostate cancer by sniffing a urine sample with 98 percent accuracy. While the research wasn't conclusive, it joined other research suggesting that dogs could smell cancer. However, from training to consistency, this method isn't exactly ideal. 

A team of Finnish researchers have designed a device that is able to 'sniff' prostate cancer. It does so by conducting a molecular analysis of the atmosphere above urine samples. It then does a test to detect volatile organic compounds associated with prostate cancer. In a study conducted earlier this year, this method had a 78 percent detection rate.

"We see molecules at the stages when the tumor is very small," said Dr. Niku Oksala, of the University of Tampere and lead researcher. "We can also find whether it is aggressive or benign to know what action is needed."

The team is still working to refine the method to, for example, remove impurities, but Oksala believes this method could be used to detect other types of cancer.

"We have found there are over 30 molecule compounds in a tumor that are very smelly and easily sniffed. Eventually this can be used as a test for every cancer in the Western world," he said.