Get rid of unwanted biopsies: Urine sniff test for prostate cancer has arrived

“Necessity is the mother of all invention.” Looks like the researchers have taken the quote seriously and are developing new technologies as a solution to most of the problems arising on a daily basis.

Lately, the researchers have introduced a urine test called the “sniff test” to help easy diagnosis of prostate cancer by avoiding the unwarranted biopsy procedures. This chemical odor test helps distinguish between the urine samples of healthy and prostate cancer detected men by identifying certain volatile compounds.

According to the analysts, prostate cancer is common among the men in the U.S., for instance, about one in seven men are diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. Prostate cancer starts in the male gland called prostate which produces semen. The semen and urine sample travel through the urethra and are expelled via the penis. The diagnosis of the urinary and sexual symptoms of prostate cancer or noncancerous conditions such as enlarged or inflamed prostate is difficult. The early identification of the cancer is a must to help save lives. However, the digital rectal exam, blood tests to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA), or biopsy procedures have to be carried out for diagnosis of the prostate cancer.

Biopsy test is not only painful, uncomfortable but also expensive and infection prone task. Thus, the researchers have been trying to find an alternative solution for the prostate cancer biopsy test. The reliability of the biopsy test is non-accurate as the PSA levels identified can vary based on infection or cancer.

Professor Mangilal Agarwal from the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and his colleague Dr. Amanda Siegel were so inspired by the finding that dogs smell the volatile compound present in the urine of the prostate cancer affected men. They decided to carry out the research on the chemical sniff test. For this project, the researchers found out that the certain small compounds released into the air by the urine sample of prostate cancer patients is what the dogs could smell.

This alternative test is going to be presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in San Francisco. This chemical sniff test will be made commercial within a few years.

Poonam Bhosale-Gorade undertook the post of Team Lead–Content Writer at Medical Device News, following a 3-year stint as a writer and editor of books, reports, special publications. She holds a BE degree in Information technology from Pune University. Her hobbies include reading books, writing on Quora, trekking, playing badminton, etc. She is currently maintaining her blog Crazy Indian Stories (started recently). She can be reached at: