The metabolomic scent of cancer disease progression in soft tissue sarcoma: A case report

Gianmaria Miolo, Debora Basile, Andrea Carretta, Davide Adriano Santeufemia, Agostino Steffan, Giuseppe Corona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The purpose of this case report is to describe the potential that metabolomics breath analysis may have in cancer disease monitoring. The advances in mass spectrometry instrumentation allow the accurate real-time analysis of volatile metabolites exhaled in the breath. The application of such non-invasive devices may provide innovative and complementary monitoring of the physio-pathological conditions of cancer patients. CASE PRESENTATION: A 59-year-old Caucasian woman with spindle cell malignant mesenchymal sarcoma of the presacral region started a first-line therapy with non-pegylated liposomal doxorubicin and ifosfamide associated with pelvic radiant treatment. After two cycles of chemotherapy plus radiotherapy, a significant pulmonary disease progression was reported. Thus, a second-line therapy with trabectedin was administered. However, after only two cycles of treatment a re-staging computed tomography scan reported further cancer disease progression of the target pulmonary lesions as well as occurrence of new satellite bilateral nodules. Real-time analysis of breath exhaled volatile organic compounds, performed by select ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) during the follow-up of the patient, showed a specific metabolic pattern not observed in the breath of other soft tissue sarcoma patients who achieved clinical benefit from the treatments. CONCLUSIONS: This case report revealed the importance of the non-invasive real-time volatile organic compounds breath analysis to distinguish individual specific chemo-resistance phenotypes among soft tissue sarcoma patients. Such observation seems to suggest that breath metabolomics may be particularly useful for monitoring cancer disease progression in soft tissue sarcoma patients where only cost-effective diagnostic tools, such as positron emission tomography and computed tomography, are available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-209
Number of pages5
JournalThe International journal of biological markers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Breath
  • Cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research

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