The Use of Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry Technology to Identify Breath Volatile Organic Compounds for the Detection of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Pilot Study

Dhinashini Chandran, Eng H. Ooi, David I. Watson, Feruza Kholmurodova, Simone Jaenisch, Roger Yazbeck

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Abstract

Background: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common form of cancer worldwide, with approximately 630,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The development of low-cost and non-invasive tools for the detection of HNSCC using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath could potentially improve patient care. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) technology to identify breath VOCs for the detection of HNSCC. Materials and Methods: Breath samples were obtained from HNSCC patients (N = 23) and healthy volunteers (N = 21). Exhaled alveolar breath samples were collected into FlexFoil® PLUS (SKC Limited, Dorset, UK) sampling bags from newly diagnosed, histologically confirmed, untreated patients with HNSCC and from non-cancer participants. Breath samples were analyzed by Selected Ion Flow Tube-Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) (Syft Technologies, Christchurch, New Zealand) using Selective Ion Mode (SIM) scans that probed for 91 specific VOCs that had been previously reported as breath biomarkers of HNSCC and other malignancies. Results: Of the 91 compounds analyzed, the median concentration of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) was significantly higher in the HNSCC group (2.5 ppb, 1.6-4.4) compared to the non-cancer group (1.1 ppb, 0.9-1.3; Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted p < 0.05). A receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis showed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.801 (95% CI, 0.65952-0.94296), suggesting moderate accuracy of HCN in distinguishing HNSCC from non-cancer individuals. There were no statistically significant differences in the concentrations of the other compounds of interest that were analyzed. Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of SIFT-MS technology to identify VOCs for the detection of HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number306
JournalMedicina (Kaunas, Lithuania)
Volume55
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

Keywords

  • breath test
  • cancer screening
  • cancer screening tests
  • head and neck cancer
  • neoplasms head and neck
  • volatile organic compounds

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