A breath test for cancer?
Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center are testing the organic compounds in exhaled breath to distinguish between patients with lung cancer and those with COPD (chronic pulmonary disease). They can also use the results of their test to determine the stage of any cancer present.
According to the results of a recent study, patients are required to blow up a balloon that is attached to an extremely sensitive gold nanoparticle sensor. The particles in the sensor help to analyze the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the exhaled breath.
Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center says, “The metabolism of lung cancer patients is different than the metabolism of healthy people. It is these differences in metabolism that can define the signature of healthy breath, COPD or lung cancer.”
“We will soon be screening individuals at risk for lung cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT),” says Dr. David Koh, pulmonologist with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill. “This type of tool could eliminate any radiation exposure to our patients.”
Researchers feel that the device could be used beyond diagnosis as a way to monitor patients and alter their treatment based on their levels of VOCs as measured over time.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 224,210 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2014. It is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 million Americans report to have been diagnosed with COPD.
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.