PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Does skin cancer smell?

New research conducted by Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center has revealed that, on a molecular level, it may.

According to the study, odors from human skin cells can be used to identify melanoma.

In the study, published online in the Journal of Chromatography B, researchers used techniques to identify numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at three different stages of the disease and compared them with those from normal cells. An absorbent device was used to collect the compounds, which were then analyzed.

Researchers say the melanoma cells produced certain compounds that weren’t detected in the VOCs from normal cells as well as more or less of other chemicals. Furthermore, the types of melanoma cells could be distinguished from one another based on their VOCs.

The findings suggest that it may be possible for doctors to eventually detect melanoma using a non-invasive method of odor analysis.

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