Detecting head and neck squamous carcinoma using a portable handheld electronic nose

Rens M. G. E. van de Goor*, Michel R. A. van Hooren, Darius Henatsch, Bernd Kremer, Kenneth W. Kross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Introduction Detecting volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath enables the diagnosis of cancer. We investigated whether a handheld version of an electronic nose is able to discriminate between patients with head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) and healthy controls.

Methods Ninety-one patients with HNSCC and 72 controls exhaled through an e-nose. An artificial neural network based model was built to separate between HNSCC patients and healthy controls. Additionally, three models were created for separating between the oral, oropharyngeal, and glottic subsites respectively, and healthy controls.

Results The results showed a diagnostic accuracy of 72% at a sensitivity of 79%, specificity of 63%, and area under the curve (AUC) of 0.75. Results for the subsites showed an AUC of 0.85, 0.82, and 0.83 respectively for oral, oropharyngeal, and glottic HNSCC.

Conclusion This feasibility study showed that this portable noninvasive diagnostic tool can differentiate between HNSCC patients and healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2555-2559
Number of pages5
JournalHead and Neck-Journal for the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • diagnosis
  • electronic nose technology
  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • screening
  • volatile organic compounds

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