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Cancer detection breath test prototype

A tool to detect lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer could be developed based on positive results from a small trial with a prototype

Researchers from Israel have developed a prototype tool to detect cancer in the breath, according to a study published today in the British Journal of Cancer.

The researchers tested the ability of a nanosensor array to distinguish between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the exhaled alveolar breath of 177 patients. The patients in the trials were either healthy or had breast, lung, colon or prostate cancer. 

They found that the nanosensor array was not only able to determine which subjects had cancer but was also able to detect the type of cancer with a high degree of sensitivity. The results were not affected by biological or lifestyle factors, such as smoking.

Following these positive results, the researchers have suggested that it may one day be possible to develop an inexpensive, non-invasive, portable, easy-to-use device that would be used as a diagnostic tool in a primary care setting. Early detection through a simple, inexpensive tool would improve the survival rate of cancer. It would also be possible to use the suggested tool to monitor the effectiveness of treatment in cancer patients and detect relapses.

11th August 2010

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