Science Scope

Breath test can detect cancer

Posting in Cancer

Researchers developed a breath test for cancer. The electronic nose can sniff out common cancers before the symptoms start.

Imagine if there was a breath test you could take that could tell you if you had cancer before you had any symptoms at all?

Scientists developed a breath test prototype that can identify the four most common forms of cancer: lung, bowel, breast, and prostate.

The Technion Israel Institute of Technology researchers tested 177 people — some were healthy, while others suffered from breast, bowel, lung, or prostate cancer, reports The Guardian. More tests will be needed to see if the breath test works in cases when the cancer status isn't known.

The electronic nose could tell if a person has healthy or cancerous breath and detected which kind of cancer the person had. It's the gold nanoparticles in the sensors that can sniff out chemicals. When tumors begin to grow, the cancerous cells emit chemicals unique to that type of cancer.

And it will take a few years for scientists to hone down the accuracy of the test. The breath tests would be far less troublesome than mammograms and stool tests. So using the electronic nose in addition to imaging could ease the burden of uncomfortable, regular checkups.

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure