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Urinary volatile organic compounds for the detection of prostate cancer

Khalid, Tanzeela; Aggio, Raphael; White, Paul; De Lacy Costello, Ben; Persad, Raj; Al-Kateb, Huda; Jones, Peter; Probert, Chris S.; Ratcliffe, Norman

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Tanzeela Khalid

Raphael Aggio

Paul White
Professor in Applied Statistics

Raj Persad

Huda Al-Kateb

Peter Jones

Chris S. Probert

Norman Ratcliffe
Professor in Materials & Sensors Science


Franky L. Chan


© 2015 Khalid et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The aim of this work was to investigate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from urine samples to determine whether they can be used to classify samples into those from prostate cancer and non-cancer groups. Participants were men referred for a trans-rectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy because of an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) level or abnormal findings on digital rectal examination. Urine samples were collected from patients with prostate cancer (n = 59) and cancer-free controls (n = 43), on the day of their biopsy, prior to their procedure. VOCs from the headspace of basified urine samples were extracted using solid-phase micro-extraction and analysed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Classifiers were developed using Random Forest (RF) and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) classification techniques. PSA alone had an accuracy of 62-64% in these samples. A model based on 4 VOCs, 2,6-dimethyl-7-octen-2-ol, pentanal, 3-octanone, and 2-octanone, was marginally more accurate 63-65%. When combined, PSA level and these four VOCs had mean accuracies of 74% and 65%, using RF and LDA, respectively. With repeated double cross-validation, the mean accuracies fell to 71% and 65%, using RF and LDA, respectively. Results from VOC profiling of urine headspace are encouraging and suggest that there are other metabolomic avenues worth exploring which could help improve the stratification of men at risk of prostate cancer. This study also adds to our knowledge on the profile of compounds found in basified urine, from controls and cancer patients, which is useful information for future studies comparing the urine from patients with other disease states.


Khalid, T., Aggio, R., White, P., De Lacy Costello, B., Persad, R., Al-Kateb, H., …Ratcliffe, N. (2015). Urinary volatile organic compounds for the detection of prostate cancer. PLoS ONE, 10(11), e0143283.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2015
Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 28, 2016
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 11
Pages e0143283
Keywords prostate cancer, urinary volatile organic compounds
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