British researchers have made a device that can “smell” bladder cancer in urine samples.
The device uses a sensor to detect gaseous chemicals that are given off if cancer cells are present.
Early trials show the tests gives accurate results more than nine times in 10, its inventors told PLoS One journal.
However, experts say more studies are needed to perfect the test before it can become widely available.
Doctors have been searching for ways to spot this cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable.
And many have been interested in odors in urine, since past work suggests dogs can be trained to recognize the scent of cancer.
Prof. Chris Probert, from Liverpool University, and Prof. Norman Ratcliffe, of the University of the West of England, say their new device can read cancer smells.
“It reads the gases that chemicals in the urine can give off when the sample is heated,” said Prof. Norman Ratcliffe.
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. Chris 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.”