Melanoma Skin Cancer Detectable through Skin Odor

Cynthia Bailey, MD|August 9, 2013

poodle dog in the medical office As a dermatologist and dog lover, I've been intrigued by the stories of dogs detecting melanoma by scent. Now science is proving why and how that is possible. Perhaps someday we dermatologists will even use scent-detecting devices as part of our diagnostic tool box. This intriguing study, from researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Research Center in Philladelphia, was just published in the Journal of Chromatography B. They found that melanoma cancers release unique volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are detectable; the malignant melanocytes released different VOCs than normal melanocytes in healthy non-cancerous skin. It's fascinating, and who knows, maybe someday there will be another reason for a dog-loving dermatologist to bring her dog to the office. Reference: Kwaka, Jae et. al., Volatile biomarkers from human melanoma cells, Journal of Chromatography B, Volume 931, 15 July 2013, Pages 90–96  

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