Healthy tissue and ovarian cancer tissue smell differently, and this has been confirmed by the latest research conducted by György Horvath from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and researchers from the University of Gävle and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Professor Thomas Lindblad from KTH and researcher Jose Chilo from Gävle University, worked with Horvath on detecting this scent by using an existing electronic nose at KTH.
“We've managed to detect and register the scent from a form of ovarian cancer, and the scent from a healthy Fallopian tube and healthy womb muscle,” said Horvath.
“This technical confirmation of a cancer scent will have major practical implications – a sufficiently sensitive and specific method could save hundreds of lives a year in Sweden alone.”
So they tested an eve more sensitive electronic scent detector, that uses the same basic structure as the existing electronic noses, but it has several new components that the researchers added to increase its sensitivity.
Horvath says that the “goal is to be able to screen blood samples from apparently healthy women and so detect ovarian cancer at an early stage when it can still be cured.”
György Horvath realized that cancer tissue smelled different from healthy tissue after an earlier experiment in which he used specially trained dogs to prove it.
The dogs managed to use this scent to make the difference between ovarian cancer tissue and both normal healthy abdominal tissue as well as other gynecological cancers.
The finding that the blood of patients with ovarian cancer also has this same specific scent was published in the journal BMC Cancer.
Ovarian tumors are, for most of them, benign, especially in young women, but over 700 women are still diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Sweden every year.
This is due to the fact that symptoms only appear once the tumor reaches a considerable size or has managed to spread and causes a swollen abdomen and pain.
Therefore, ovarian cancer is often detected too late to simply remove the tumor surgically, and supplementary chemotherapy becomes necessary, and even so, many patients do not survive.
These last results were published recently in the journal Future Oncology.