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Breath test could help detect cancers.

A test using a patient's breath could be developed to detect lung, breast, bowel, and prostate cancers, according to a new study. Although the study is preliminary, the researchers found that electronic sensors could distinguish between the breath of healthy patients and those who have cancer. The sensors, which use organically functionalized gold nanoparticles and gas chromatography linked to mass spectrometry to test the breath for volatile organic compounds, could also identify the type of cancer.

The study examined the breath of 177 volunteers with different stages of lung, breast, bowel, or prostate cancer and those who were healthy. The patients with cancer had already been diagnosed by screenings or biopsies but had not yet begun treatment.

According to the researchers, as a cancer grows, the surface of cells emits chemicals, and the sensors can detect these chemicals in the breath. Further tests with larger samples are needed to confirm whether breath can be used in the detection of cancer. However, the test has the potential to aid in the early detection of cancers as well as improving treatments for cancers.

Peng, G., Hakim, M., Broza, Y.Y., Billan, S., Abdah-Bortnyak, R., Kuten, A., . . . Haick, H. (2010). Detection of lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers from exhaled breath using a single array of nanosensors. British Journal of Cancer, 103, 542-551. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605810

[By Deborah McBride, RN, MSN, CPON[R], Contributor]
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Author:McBride, Deborah
Publication:ONS Connect
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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