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.

So how does it work? Professor Chris Probert, from Liverpool University and Professor Norman Ratcliffe of the University of the West of England, the investors behind the new device, 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." The developers told the journal PLoS One that in early trials, the device was accurate more than nine times in 10.

"It reads the gases that chemicals in the urine can give off when the sample is heated," Ratcliffe told BBC News.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 72,570 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year in the U.S. and more than 15,000 will die from the disease. 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.

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