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Study: Breath Tests Could Be Used to Diagnose Lung Cancer

‘Electronic nose’ sniffs out disease (September 9)

Collecting samples of exhaled breath from people at high risk of lung cancer could be an inexpensive and noninvasive method of diagnosing the disease, according to new research conducted in Europe.

The findings were presented Sept. 9 at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona.

Previous research has shown that animals can detect diseases based on breath tests. Scientists have been trying to replicate this ability with “electronic nose” technology, which works by detecting different profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath samples.

Researchers at the University of Latvia collected exhaled breath samples from 265 nonsmokers and 210 smokers.

They found that in nonsmokers, the electronic nose correctly identified 128 as having lung cancer and misdiagnosed five people who didn’t have cancer. In the group of smokers, the electronic nose correctly identified 114 people as having lung cancer and misdiagnosed five people with lung cancer.

Lead author Dr. Maris Bukovskis said: “We have shown that it is possible to use breath tests to correctly identify lung cancer with a high sensitivity rate. The results of our study take us one step further to understanding this important new technology.”

Source: Medical Xpress; September 9, 2013.

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