We have used selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) to determine the concentration of formaldehyde in the headspace of urine from patients suffering from bladder and prostate cancer and from several healthy subjects as controls. We address the potential problems associated with the use of ion chemistry to quantify formaldehyde in the presence of the relatively large number densities of water molecules and show that formaldehyde can be quantified in urine headspace using analysis by SIFT-MS. These studies show that formaldehyde is clearly elevated in the headspace of the urine from the cancer patients as compared with urine from the healthy controls. Thus, with further improvements in the methodology and the sensitivity of our SIFT-MS technique, formaldehyde quantification in urine headspace using this new analytical method could be a valuable non-invasive indicator of the presence of early-stage tumours in the body.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.