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New “Breathalyzer” Has the Potential to Detect Lung Cancer


02.17.15 Nicholas Rohaidy

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1.8 million new cases of lung cancer each year, a disease that claims over 1.5 million deaths a year. To help address this concern, researchers at the Chongqing University in China have developed a noninvasive method to detect volatile compounds present exclusively in the breath of people with certain types of lung cancer.
From the conclusion of the study:

“[The method] shows a good selectivity, and the four gases can be discriminated effectively… Furthermore… different concentrations of each gas could also be separated. Both kinds and concentrations could be correctly discriminated with an almost 100% accurate rate.”

The method, which can detect up to four compounds, can also determine gas concentrations of each which has the added bonus of determining cancer staging. While this new method is still in research, it has the potential for noninvasive, early, and quick detection of lung cancer with the test only taking approximately 20 minutes. Despite the promising results, however, the device still has to prove effective and safe in a number of rounds of clinical trials before it can be used as a diagnostic tool.

(Photo: Ed Uthman)