New 'Scent Device' Called OdoReader Can Identify Bladder Cancer

    16 July, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the world, an estimated 12 million new cases are found every year. Now, researchers say they have developed a "scent device" that can identify the disease.

    The device is called the OdoReader, it has a sensor that finds chemicals in the gases released by urine.

    The device takes about 30 minutes to analyze the odors in a urine sample, to find if a person has bladder cancer.

    The Institute of Biosensor Technology at the University of the West of England in Bristol developed the device.

    Chris Probert at the University of Liverpool was part of a team that tested it. Mr Probert says the results are highly accurate.

    "This data set is very strong: 96-100 percent accuracy. We think we are right for the next study to show that it is reproducible and then, hopefully, we can talk to industry about making a box that people can buy for use in surgeries and hospitals."

    Researchers tested the OdoReader on 98 urine samples. 24 of them were from patients known to have bladder cancer, 74 were from people who had bladder infections, but not bladder cancer. The device identified everyone of the patients who had bladder cancer.

    Mr Probert says researchers in other labs are developing sniffing devices to diagnose stomach cancer, another common disease worldwide.

    Researchers say the OdoReader is like a dog's nose. An earlier study showed that dogs could be trained to detect bladder cancer based on the odor of urine. However, the dog's noses was not nearly as reliable as the new device.

    Mr Probert says the scent device could someday be used to monitor the health of workers in industries like rubber and insulation manufacturing.

    "There's quite a burden of cancer in those employees. And so, occupational health in those places of work could help their employees by taking a urine sample, much as they are doing now but with much more accuracy with our machine."

    Bladder cancer is now found by looking for the blood in the urine.

    Mr Probert says researchers have not yet identified which gases in urine make the scent unique to bladder cancer. But he says they are working on that. They are also working on other odor reading devices to diagnose other cancers, including those of the uterus and colon.

    The journal PLoS ONE, from the Public Library of Science published an article by Chris Probert and his colleagues on the OdoReader.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English. Go to our website to read and listen to other stories for people learning English. I'm Jim Tedder.