Improved non-invasive diagnosis of bladder cancer with an electronic nose: A large pilot study

Pierfrancesco Bassi, Luca Di Gianfrancesco*, Luigi Salmaso, Mauro Ragonese, Giuseppe Palermo, Emilio Sacco, Rosa Arboretti Giancristofaro, Riccardo Ceccato, Marco Racioppi

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Bladder cancer (BCa) emits specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the urine headspace that can be detected by an electronic nose. The diagnostic performance of an electronic nose in detecting BCa was investigated in a pilot study. Methods: A prospective, single-center, controlled, non-randomized, phase 2 study was carried out on 198 consecutive subjects (102 with proven BCa, 96 controls). Urine samples were evaluated with an electronic nose provided with 32 volatile gas analyzer sensors. The tests were repeated at least two times per sample. Accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and variability were evaluated using mainly the non-parametric combination method, permutation tests, and discriminant analysis classification. Results: Statistically significant differences between BCa patients and controls were reported by 28 (87.5%) of the 32 sensors. The overall discriminatory power, sensitivity, and specificity were 78.8%, 74.1%, and 76%, respectively; 13/96 (13.5%) controls and 29/102 (28.4%) BCa patients were misclassified as false positive and false negative, respectively. Where the most efficient sensors were selected, the sensitivity and specificity increased up to 91.1% (72.5–100) and 89.1% (81–95.8), respectively. None of the tumor characteristics represented independent predictors of device responsiveness. Conclusions: The electronic nose might represent a potentially reliable, quick, accurate, and cost-effective tool for non-invasive BCa diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4984-N/A
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bladder cancer
  • Electronic nose
  • Non-invasive diagnosis
  • Volatile organic compounds


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