Posted on Feb 20, 2014, 6 a.m.
A breath test may reveal if a person has early-stage lung cancer.
Lung cancer was the most common cancer worldwide contributing 13% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2012. Early detection of lung cancer is a key factor for increasing the survival rates of lung cancer patients. Michael Bousamra, from the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA), and colleagues tested the exhaled breath of people with suspicious lung lesions that were detected on CT scans. The breath was tested for levels of four carbonyls – cancer-specific substances. Having elevated levels of three of the four carbonyls was predictive of lung cancer in 95% of patients, while having normal levels of these substances was predictive of a noncancerous growth in 80% of patients. Elevated carbonyl levels returned to normal after lung cancer patients had surgery to remove the cancer. The study authors write that: “The carbonyl [volatile organic compounds] profile in exhaled breath determined using this new silicon microreactor technology provides for the noninvasive detection of lung cancer.”
Fu XA, Li M, Knipp RJ, Nantz MH, Bousamra M. “Noninvasive detection of lung cancer using exhaled breath.” Cancer Med. 2013 Nov 20.