Monday, February 26, 2007

Breath test for lung cancer

Lung cancer 'colour breath test' BBC 2/26/07 "US scientists have devised a colour test which shows up unique chemical changes in the breath of people with lung cancer. The hues of a series of 36 dots detect lung cancer accurately in just under three out of four people with the disease...Experts have known for many years that the chemical composition of a person's breath changes when they develop lung cancer...lung cancer cells give off chemicals, called volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which are then breathed out. In the past, scientists have used highly sensitive machines such as gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy to "read" these VOCs with extreme accuracy. ..."Ultimately, this line of investigation could lead to an inexpensive, non-invasive screening or diagnostic test for lung cancer," ..."At the moment we rely on people coming forward with symptoms, or a suspect chest x-ray picked up purely by chance. "In the UK our five-year survival for lung cancer is about seven out of 100. "That's appalling. Within one year from diagnosis almost 80% are dead. That's because people are picked up when the disease is advanced. "

So this isn't particularly novel technology, just that it is getting smaller, cheaper, easier to administer and to understand the results. 75% accuracy is ok, but lets hope they improve this soon so this could be employed by most gp's not just specialists.

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