Researchers Identify Odor of Skin Cancer

American scientists identified an odor that emanates from skin cancer, a development that may advance the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.

Scientists are hoping that one day doctors can wave a scanner over the skin and the “profile” of chemical odors would detect the cancerous cells, researchers told the annual conference of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dogs are able to detect tumors, according to recent studies, because they smell differently than normal skin.

Gallagher’s team analyzed the air above the tumor sites in 11 patients who had basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of skin cancer. They compared the findings with those taken from healthy patients.

"Researchers have speculated that tumors give off different odors, but we're the first to identify and quantify the compounds involved in skin cancer odors," said chemist Michelle Gallagher, who conducted the study at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Approximately one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year.

The scientists said they plan to identify a reliable "odor profile" of all three forms of skin cancer, including squamous cell cancer and melanoma, which is the deadliest form.

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Click here to read more on skin cancer, including how to detect it.