Scientists in the U.K. have developed a device that can smell bladder cancer in urine samples. Health experts are hopeful that this might be the break they need to spot this cancer at an earlier stage.
The inventors behind the new device, Professor Chris Probert, from Liverpool University and Professor Norman Ratcliffe of the University of the West of England, say it can detect cancer smells.
The new device uses a sensor to detect gases emitted by the urine sample. If cancer is present, the cells will give off certain gases that can be detected by the devices highly trained nose.
To test their device, they used 98 samples of urine - 24 from men known to have bladder cancer and 74 from men with bladder-related problems but no cancer.
Prof Probert said the results were very encouraging but added: "We now need to look at larger samples of patients to test the device further before it can be used in hospitals."
According to its inventors, early trials show the tests gives accurate results more than nine times in 10.
Like most forms of cancer, the earlier bladder cancer is diagnosed, the better a person's chances of beating it. Doctors have been searching for ways to detect it at the earliest stage possible, and this new test might just help them do that.
More tests are needed to perfect the test before it can really be put to use, but early results are promising.