News / Health

Breath Test Detects Lung Cancer

Jessica Berman
U.S. researchers have developed a breath test that detects lung cancer.  Researchers say the test is more sensitive than high-tech imaging, especially for distinguishing benign tumors from cancerous ones.  

When an X-ray scan of a patient's lungs reveals a nodule or tiny mass, the challenge for doctors is determining whether the growth is benign, or a sign of early stage cancer. Investigators say the breath analysis could help when used in conjunction with PET scans or other imaging modalities.
 
Researchers conducted a trial involving 107 patients with lung cancer, 40 people with benign lung nodules, and seven individuals whose cancer had spread to other parts of their body.  The results were compared to a group of 88 healthy individuals.
   
The breath analysis was almost as sensitive as high-tech imaging at identifying patients with lung cancer, and it was twice as accurate at distinguishing benign lung disease, dramatically reducing the rate of so-called “false positives.”

Michael Bousrama is an associate professor at the University of Louisville medical school and the study’s lead author. He says lung spots are often detected on an X-ray or CT (computed tomography) scan when a patient goes to the doctor complaining of shortness of breath or chest pain.

“In this day and age what you do is you do a biopsy; either you stick a needle through the skin and into the lung, into the mass, or you do a bronchoscopy; or you might get a PET scan to determine whether or not it’s more or less likely to be cancer.   All of those things are expensive and the CT-guided biopsy and the bronchoscopy are invasive procedures.  They have complications and pain associated with them.  So the concept of being able to analyze somebody’s breath to help determine whether a given pulmonary nodule is cancer or not could be very appealing," said Bousrama.

Bousrama says the breath test, which can be done in the doctor’s office, has the potential to quickly put a patient’s mind at ease in determining that a growth is benign.

The test is designed to measure levels of four specific substances called carbonyl compounds, which are found in the breath of people with malignant tumors.  The majority of patients in the study with benign nodules had at most only one elevated carbonyl compound compared to people with stage IV lung cancer. They had three or four elevated cancer markers.

Bousrama envisions using the breath analysis to confirm an initial diagnosis of lung cancer using high-tech imaging.  He says the test won’t be available for a number of years.

Michael Bousrama described the breath analysis test at a meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in Toronto, Canada.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs