Non-invasive detection and staging of colorectal cancer using a portable electronic nose

Heena Tyagi, Emma Daulton, Ayman S. Bannaga, Ramesh P. Arasaradnam, James A. Covington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Electronic noses (e-nose) offer potential for the detection of cancer in its early stages. The ability to analyse samples in real time, at a low cost, applying easy–to-use and portable equipment, gives e-noses advantages over other technologies, such as Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). For diseases such as cancer with a high mortality, a technology that can provide fast results for use in routine clinical applications is important. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is among the highest occurring cancers and has high mortality rates, if diagnosed late. In our study, we investigated the use of portable electronic nose (PEN3), with further analysis using GC-TOF-MS, for the analysis of gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to profile the urinary metabolome of colorectal cancer. We also compared the different cancer stages with non-cancers using the PEN3 and GC-TOF-MS. Results obtained from PEN3, and GC-TOF-MS demonstrated high accuracy for the separation of CRC and non-cancer. PEN3 separated CRC from non-cancerous group with 0.81 AUC (Area Under the Curve). We used data from GC-TOF-MS to obtain a VOC profile for CRC, which identified 23 potential biomarker VOCs for CRC. Thus, the PEN3 and GC-TOF-MS were found to successfully separate the cancer group from the non-cancer group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5440
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Electronic nose
  • PEN3
  • VOCs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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