Odors and cancer: Current status and future directions

Authors: Flora Gouzerh, Jean-Marie Bessière, Beata Ujvari, Frédéric Thomas , Antoine M Dujon, Laurent Dormont

Source: Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta-reviews On Cancer (NOV2021)


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. Because tumors detected at early stages are easier to treat, the search for biomarkers-especially non-invasive ones-that allow early detection of malignancies remains a central goal to reduce cancer mortality.

Cancer, like other pathologies, often alters body odors, and much has been done by scientists over the last few decades to assess the value of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as signatures of cancers. We present here a quantitative review of 208 studies carried out between 1984 and 2020 that explore VOCs as potential biomarkers of cancers.

We analyzed the main findings of these studies, listing and classifying VOCs related to different cancer types while considering both sampling methods and analysis techniques. Considering this synthesis, we discuss several of the challenges and the most promising prospects of this research direction in the war against cancer.