Getting closer to diagnosing prostate cancer “by a sniff test”


Yet another research group is presenting data this week (at a meeting of the American Chemical Society) on the potential to identify risk for prostate cancer based on smell.

We have mentioned this potential methodology before (see, for example, here, here, and here) and so there is nothing really new about the data being presented by Siegel et al. Interested readers can review the media information on the ScienceDaily web site. However, Siegel et al. claim that their technique should be available clinically “within a few years”, so we are definitely getting closer to the clinical availability of this type of testing for risk of prostate cancer.

As yet your sitemaster doesn’t see how this type of testing would be able to replace the need for a prostate biopsy … but — assuming that it really can be shown to have the high level of accuracy suggested in early research — it would certainly be able to massively reduce the number of men who would need to have a biopsy based on a PSA test alone.

7 Responses

  1. it would certainly be able to massively reduce the number of men who would need to have a biopsy based on a PSA test alone

    Just a pity it wouldn’t make any difference to the thing that really matters, the massive over-treatment of prostate cancer.

  2. It will be very interesting to know what study will be necessary to present to the insurance companies … a biopsy or a sniff test by a certified dog?

  3. This post is very interesting. I noticed a definite odor about myself prior to my 2008 prostatectomy (PSA at the time was 9.6). This was the same odor that I noticed on my maternal grandfather who was a prostate cancer fatality in 1975. My odor disappeared almost immediately, following surgery. It has not reappeared. There could be something to this.

  4. Dear Raul:

    The forms of “sniff test” being developed are rather different than those carried out by dogs. They are based on biophysical identification of the presence of very specific chemicals in urine that are now known to be highly indicative of the presence of prostate cancer (because they are the chemicals that we have been able to identify as a consequence of the original research with those dogs).

  5. Dear Mr. O’Neill:

    We pride ourselves on the fact that we will post almost any comment that is (a) not abusive or vulgar and (b) not incomprehensible. However, that doesn’t mean that we necessarily find all such comments either constructive or accurate.

  6. I’m voting to name any new such sensor as a “dog scan,” even if it is fully automated. After all, we have cat scans and pet scans, and why should we slight canines? (By the way, I remember discussing the dog scan, then in its infancy, with Dr. W. Dahut of the NCI after a prostate cancer presentation to an assembly at my work site. At that time my father had prostate cancer, which proved lethal, but I did not, so it was before 2000.)

  7. Jim:

    We could probably manage to argue for that one: the Diagnostic Olafactory Gander or DOG scan

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