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Now, e-nose that can 'smell' prostate cancer

An electronic nose can detect prostate cancer using urine samples, a new study has revealed.

Prostate cancer, the second most common cancer in men, is one of the important causes of cancer death.

According to the researchers in Finland, the 'Electronic Nose' can successfully differentiate prostate cancer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), by detecting urine headspace that is the space directly above the urine sample.

The researchers stated that the e-nose is a device consisting of a bunch of nonspecific sensors. The moment the device is exposed to the sample, it produces a profile or a "smell print".

The prime researcher Niku KJ Oksala from the University of Tampere and Department of Vascular Surgery, Finland stated, "eNoses have been studied in various medical applications, including early detection of cancer, especially from exhaled air. However, exhaled air is a problematic sample material since it requires good cooperation and technique from the patient and immediate analysis, while urine is simple to attain and store, and is therefore more feasible in clinical practice."

He further commented, "Preliminary data suggested that detection of urologic malignancies from urine headspace was possible. Our own preliminary results on prostate cancer cells encouraged us to launch this prospective clinical study."

The e-nose was tested on 50 patients suffering from prostate cancer, and 15 patients diagnosed with BPH. The prostate cancer patients gave urine samples before surgery and those with BPH provided samples after three months of surgery. These samples would be used as a pooled control sample population.

The findings revealed that using urine headspace, the 'Electronic Nose' can differentiate between prostate cancer and BPH. The device achieved a sensitivity of 78 per cent and specificity of 67 per cent.