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Electronic Nose Could Help Detect Prostate Cancer from Urine Samples

Update Date: May 02, 2014 11:19 AM EDT

One of the key steps in boosting survival rates and the effectiveness of treatments for diseases is to detect them early on. In a new study, researchers from Finland tested the effectiveness of using an electronic nose (eNose) in differentiating between prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The researchers concluded that the eNose could accurately sniff out cancer from a urine sample.

"eNoses have been studied in various medical applications, including early detection of cancer, especially from exhaled air," said lead investigator Niku KJ. Oksala, MD, PhD, DSc, of the Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Tampere and Department of Vascular Surgery, Tampere University Hospital, Finland.

Oksala added, "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. 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 researchers used the ChemPro® 100-eNose from Environics Inc., Mikkeli, Finland on 65 urine samples. 50 of the samples came from patients with prostate cancer that was diagnosed via a biopsy. The remaining 15 samples came from patients with BPH. All 65 patients were expected to undergo surgery. When the researchers used the device to sniff the urine samples' headspace, which is the air directly above the urine, they found that the eNose was able to differentiate between prostate cancer and BPH. The press release reported that the tool "achieved a sensitivity of 78%, specificity of 67% and AUC of 42.0."

The researchers found that the eNose yielded results that were comparable to tests that measure prostate specific antigen (PSA). The study was published in the Journal of Urology.

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