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Wednesday 20th June 2018

New lung cancer detection method

1st September 2009

An Israeli breath test may provide an early detection technique for lung cancer.


The test involves a gold nanoparticle sensor that can detect signs of lung cancer  in the air a person exhales.

The sensor would be cheap enough to manufacture for general practitioners to use on their patients.

While the device does not so far detect lung cancer with 100% accuracy, other studies have already shown that the breath of people with lung cancer contains something called volatile organic compounds.

In 2006, a study involving dogs that had been trained to smell volatile organic compounds boasted a 99% accuracy rate of cancer discovery.

Husam Haick, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, said his hope is that the test might give general practitioners a simple way of screening people on a routine basis.

The researchers said that conventional diagnostic methods for lung cancer are unsuitable for widespread screening because they are expensive and occasionally miss tumours.

Haick said that the device is not at all expensive, and that his team's idea was to devise something very sensitive, very cheap, and very portable.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer in the world in terms of how many deaths it causes.

The disease kills 1.3 million people per year.

Only about one in seven lung cancer patients lives more than five years after being diagnosed.

Proponents of new systems for recognising lung cancer say that the disease has plenty of time to sneak up on people while tumors too small to be seen by X-rays growing in their lungs.

The researchers' system consists of gold nanoparticles combined with different organic groups.

When the organic groups detect a VOC, there is a change of state. Haick said that it could take three to five years for his team's device to pass further testing and to gain approval.

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