Researchers developing a urine “sniff test” for prostate cancer believe that, once perfected, their method will help doctors to reduce unwarranted biopsies for diagnosing the disease.
The latest results from their experimental chemical odor test show that 90 percent of urine samples from men with prostate cancer contained a small set of identifiable volatile compounds that were absent in samples from healthy men.
The findings feature at this year’s spring national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, CA.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, where around 1 out of every 7 men can expect to be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.
The cancer begins in cells of the prostate – a male gland that makes a thick fluid that is added to semen and is situated in front of the rectum and below the bladder.
Semen and urine travel through the center of the prostate (using a tube called the urethra) to exit the body via the penis. Some of the urinary and sexual symptoms of prostate cancer – and noncancerous conditions such as inflamed and enlarged prostate – arise because the swollen gland squeezes this channel.
While early detection is one of the most important factors in helping men to survive prostate cancer, diagnosis is not straightforward. It usually relies on a combination of a digital rectal exam and a blood test to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to help decide whether a biopsy should be done.