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New Lung Cancer Detection Method Shows Potential

While traditional methods for detection of lung cancer use scanning technologies, there have been developments in using exhaled breath. When analyzed by chromatographic and mass spectrometric studies, the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) specifically seen in patients, like styrene, have been in accordance with traditional methods and the results obtained are 85 percent accurate. A study was conducted by Inbar Nardi-Agmon, MD, of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, and his colleagues to test this theory. The data was collected over increments, with breath samples being taken on average every 6 weeks.

  • 1 group of patients with advanced lung cancer were considered: 143 breath-exhaled breath samples from 39 patients with advanced lung cancer were collected and these samples were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. There was a search for VOCs which had been previously identified- styrene, Dodecan 4-methyl, and ɑ-Phellandrene.
  • 85 percent accuracy: Traditional CT scanning and RECIST served as the standard to monitor treatment efficacy. It was found that there was an 85% success in monitoring disease presence, and for the cases wrongly identified, the researchers noted that some in that group may have been categorized incorrectly at initial assessment or the time interval between sampling may have been too long.
  • 17 compound markers indicative of lung cancer found: Another study, conducted by Rosamaria Capuano, of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and colleagues identified a total of 17 compounds as related to lung cancer by comparison with existing mass spectral libraries. Some of them have been found as characteristic VOCs in lung cancer.

These two studies, taken in conjunction, have led the researchers to conclude that breath analysis is an area of research with great potential in cancer screening. With further advancements and in-depth research in the area, these breath tests may have the potential to improve the ways to screen for cancer and detect it in early stages.


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