HealthDay News — Electronic noses (e-noses) appear to have a relatively high diagnostic accuracy in the detection of cancer from exhaled breath, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published online June 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Max H.M.C. Scheepers, MD, from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy and methodologic challenges of using e-noses for the detection of cancer.

Based upon 52 included feasibility studies (3677 patients with cancer), the researchers found that the sensitivity of e-noses ranged from 48.3 to 95.8% and the specificity from 10.0 to 100.0%. Pooled analysis yielded a mean area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 94%, a sensitivity of 90%, and a specificity of 87%. Differences in the selection of patients, endogenous and exogenous factors, and collection of exhaled breath resulted in considerable heterogeneity of the studies.

“Although e-noses were found to have promising accuracy in detecting cancer, there is a need for standardized external validation studies that evaluate their diagnostic accuracy so that their role in the diagnostic workup of cancer can be established,” the authors write.

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