Can Urine Sniff Test Detect Prostate Cancer In Patients?
While skin cancer is one of the most frequently occurring cancer in America, the prevalence of prostate cancer is not any less. According to latest estimates, 1 out of 7 men may be at risk of developing prostate cancer during the course of their lifetime. It is imperative to mention that early detection of prostate cancer demands many undesirable tests and procedures that most male patients are unwilling to undergo. Researchers have come up with a urine sniff test that may rule out the need of performing other invasive diagnostic tests.
Background Of Urine Sniff Test
The results from a recent experimental study revealed that the urine sample of 90% men with prostate cancer contains a set of volatile compounds that are identifiable by simple biochemical tests. These compounds are not found in the urine sample of healthy individuals.
The development of cancer begins in the prostate cells. Prostate gland is present in men and is responsible for producing a fluid which contributes to the major volume of semen. Urine and semen are eliminated from the body via penis, through a tube referred to as urethra which passes through the center of prostate gland. Prostate cancer may contribute to a variety of symptoms that roots from the swelling of prostate gland.
Diagnosing prostate cancer at the right time is a crucial factor that directly determines the quality of your survival after cancer treatment. However, detection of prostate cancer is not as easy as it may sound. It involves blood test, digital rectal examination and biopsies. The need of biopsy is dictated by the concentration of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the urine.
Why Prostate Biopsy Is Not An Ideal Diagnostic Tool?
Prostate biopsy is not a preferred choice for early cancer detection because:
- It is uncomfortable
- The cost of procedure is expensive
- It may put the patient at risk of developing infection
The procedure is carried out by removing a small piece of tissue from the prostate by means of needle insertion. The sample is analyzed and may sometime reveal that the cancer treatment may not be necessary after all.
Sometimes the culprit behind such bothersome symptoms may not be prostate cancer. Other conditions like prostate infection may also present with troubling symptoms and high levels of PSA. Therefore, the PSA test results are not too reliable; hence biopsy is done to rule out all other conditions that may cause more or less similar symptoms.
Urine Sniff Test
Researchers have targeted to investigate other approaches that are less risky than biopsy to confirm the prostate cancer. A study proved that dogs can sniff the volatile compound present in the urine of patients having prostate cancer. The accuracy of results was marked as 98%. Researchers have identified the constituents that gives the peculiar odor to the patient’s urine. They have come up with a chemical sniff test to detect the presence of such organic compounds.
The study was based on urine samples of 100 men undergoing the biopsy test for the diagnosis of prostate cancer. The samples were preserved by the addition of sodium chloride whereas their pH was neutralized. The organic compounds were traced using gas chromatography mass spectrometry technique. Against placebo, 90% of the collected urine samples exhibited these volatile organic compounds.
The findings of this study along with the findings of the study based on dogs’ sniffing capability; hint that biopsies are no more the ONLY differential diagnostic tests. However, this requires elaborate amount of research. Researchers believes that once they perfect the intricate details of sniff test, the number of unwanted biopsies for the detection of prostate cancer will be greatly reduced.
If you are experiencing urinary complaints suggestive of prostate enlargement, speak to your healthcare professional for early detection and prompt management.
- Elliker, K. R., Sommerville, B. A., Broom, D. M., Neal, D. E., Armstrong, S., & Williams, H. C. (2014). Key considerations for the experimental training and evaluation of cancer odour detection dogs: lessons learnt from a double-blind, controlled trial of prostate cancer detection. BMC urology, 14(1), 22.
- Taverna, G., Tidu, L., & Grizzi, F. (2015). Sniffing out prostate cancer: a new clinical opportunity. Central European journal of urology, 68(3), 308.