Breath Test for Cancer Detection

Researchers at Israel’s Technion are developing an "electronic nose” that can "smell” head-and-neck cancer, which is often discovered too late.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 12:13 AM

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Researchers at Israel’s Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) are developing an”electronic nose” that can ”smell” head-and-neck cancer, which often is discovered too late.

The initial study by the Israeli research team was recently published in the British Journal of Cancer. The Technion scientists collected breath samples from 82 patients, some of whom were healthy and some of whom were suffering from two different kinds of cancer - lung and head-and-neck.

They used special equipment called the Nano Artificial NOSE to distinguish between molecules in the breath each patient exhaled.

Head-and-neck cancer patients often discover their disease late because of the lack of discernable symptoms. Complicating their situation is the frequent development of a secondary tumor that can affect the lungs.

The researchers were able to distinguish the molecules of each group that was tested.

"There is an urgent need to develop new ways to detect head-and-neck cancer because diagnosis of the disease is complicated, requiring specialist examinations," said Technion Professor Hossam Haick. "We now need to test these results in larger studies to find if this could lead to a potential screening method for the disease."

Approximately 37,000 Americans are detected with head-and-neck cancer every year.