The electronic nose: emerging biomarkers in lung cancer diagnostics

Wouter H van Geffen*, Kevin Lamote, Adrien Costantini, Lizza E L Hendriks, Najib M Rahman, Torsten G Blum, Jan van Meerbeeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Lung cancer is very common and the most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Despite recent progress in the systemic treatment of lung cancer (checkpoint inhibitors and tyrosine kinase inhibitors), each year, >1.5 million people die due to this disease. Most lung cancer patients already have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. Computed tomography screening of high-risk individuals can detect lung cancer at an earlier stage but at a cost of false-positive findings. Biomarkers could lead towards a reduction of these false-positive findings and earlier lung cancer diagnosis, and have the potential to improve outcomes and treatment monitoring. To date, there is a lack of such biomarkers for lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies, although electronic nose (e-nose)-derived biomarkers are of interest. E-nose techniques using exhaled breath component measurements can detect lung cancer with a sensitivity ranging from 71% to 96% and specificity from 33 to 100%. In some case series, such results have been validated but this is mostly using internal validation and hence, more work is needed. Furthermore, standardised sampling and analysis methods are lacking, impeding interstudy comparison and clinical implementation. In this narrative review, we provide an overview of the currently available data on E-nose technology for lung cancer detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e135-e141
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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