Can Expired Breath Be Used in Lung Cancer Detection?

In a new study published in the journal Nanomedicine researchers showed that a new device distinguishes between volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of cancer patients from those of a control group without cancer. Subjects exhaled into a bag that separated superficial exhaled breath from that originated deeper in the lungs and then analyzed the deeper breath using an array of gold nanoparticle sensors.
The metabolism of lung cancer patients is different from the metabolism of those without cancer and consequently, the molecules making up the expired air are also different. Using gold nanoparticles to trap and define molecules in exhaled air the new device can tell if the lung is cancerous, and whether it is small cell or non-small cell, adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
The researchers say the device could be used to diagnose lung cancer and also to look at differences over time to determine if a treatment is effective. The device would also reduce cost of diagnoses and increase the efficacy of diagnosis because, for example, one previous study of 53,000 subjects found that using low-dose chest CT scans to detect lung cancer gave a near 95 percent false positive. Thus, the new device has hope for better diagnosing of lung cancer.

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