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June 5, 2005

New Device Sniffs Out Lung Cancer

Topics: Medicine

Can detecting lung cancer be as easy as taking a breath? Lung cancer is the top cancer killer for both men and women in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

Early detection and treatment is critical to preventing or delaying death due to the disease. However, there are no general screening guidelines to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages in asymptomatic people. When lung cancer is found early, it is often because of tests that were being done for something else.

But now researchers are reporting that an "electronic nose" can identify people with lung cancer by detecting distinct characteristics in their exhaled breath.

Developer Dr. Serpil C. Erzurum of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation said in a prepared statement that based on prior work, he hypothesized that an 'electronic nose' would detect lung cancer on the basis of complex 'smellprints' of numerous volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath from individuals with lung cancer, as compared with individuals with other, noncancer lung disease or healthy controls,"

After an initial discovery and training phase, Erzurum and his colleagues tested the device on 14 people with lung cancer and 62 people without cancer. Of the 14 cancer patients, 10 had a positive exhaled breath test and four had a negative test, providing accurate detection 66 percent of the time. Of the 62 people without cancer, 57 delivered a negative test and five had a positive test, for 92 percent accuracy.

He and his colleagues said the study results prove the feasibility of the concept of using the electronic nose to detect and manage lung cancer. However, more research is needed in order to develop the most effective methods of using the electronic nose for population-based screening.

"Like the human nose, its electronic counterpart responds in concert to a given odor to generate a pattern or 'smellprint,' which is analyzed, compared with stored patterns and recognized," Erzurum explained.

The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Sources - American Thoracic Society, news release, June 1, 2005, via Medicine Net.com, and WebMd.

Posted by Hyscience at June 5, 2005 12:49 AM



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