Lung cancer breath test?

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 20, 2005

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The exhaled breath from patients with lung cancer has distinct characteristics that allow those with the disease to be identified by an "electronic nose," according to a study in the American Thoracic Society's Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers tested their electronic nose on 14 people with lung cancer and 62 people without the disease. Of the 14 cancer patients, 10 had a positive exhaled breath test and four had a negative test. Of the 62 non-cancer patients, 57 had a negative exhaled breath test and five had a positive test.

Exhaled breath contains a multitude of compounds, many of which are in the air, but a number are internally produced, the researchers said. Pentane, isoprene, acetone and benzene are among the exhaled compounds that have been detected in lung cancer patients.

The researchers, who were from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said their results prove the feasibility of the electronic nose concept to detect and manage lung cancer, but further study is needed before it is used in population screening.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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