The new test that could change the face of cancer screening

I was amazed by a fascinating bit of research I stumbled upon the other day. Enough that I immediately thought you should know about it too.

Fair warning: Some of the more technical details are difficult for even me to understand. (It’s like a slice of science fiction come to life, really.) But the gist of it couldn’t be clearer–or more exciting.

Believe it or not, we are very close to being able to detect lung cancer with a simple breath test. Cool stuff, right?

Researchers say that they have developed an advanced sensor that can analyze breath to accurately identify lung cancer, including the cancer’s histology–which means that it will even tell you what type of cancer it is.

Scientists designed the new sensor with a filter that features 36 chemically sensitive colorants. This filter reveals any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a patient’s breath. And these compounds signify changes in the metabolome–which is just a fancy term for the body’s ever-changing internal environment.

In the simplest terms, the bodies of lung cancer patients have different metabolic processes than healthy people–in antioxidant activity, in their ability to handle stress, and in their metabolism of certain VOCs. And this new sensor can identify and evaluate those differences.

What’s more, it can reportedly do this with roughly 75 percent accuracy, according to previous research.

This latest study was an effort to improve upon the original technology. It featured subjects with untreated lung cancer confirmed by biopsy, as well as patients with suspected lung cancer, and a pool of controls.

Basically, the subjects breathed through this new VOC filter, which then yielded a sample for analysis. Researchers took the data and translated it into color values.

And voila. They had their diagnosis.

Obviously, there’s more clinical research to be done before this technique will be perfected. But I think you’ll agree that it’s truly incredible.

And with the amount of time I spend railing against the medical “establishment,” I felt like it was really important to share with you. Because at the end of the day, there are just so many amazing things that come from modern medicine.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that and give credit where it’s due. And besides, this device completely meets my demands for safer cancer testing.

You can hardly beat a breath test when it comes to minimally invasive screening tools.

This is pretty brand spanking new technology. So these breath tests aren’t widely available just yet. But it goes without saying that these are incredibly promising developments… and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the modern marvels they deliver.

CHEST 2013: American College of Chest Physicians Annual Meeting. Presented October 27, 2013.
Breath Test Detects Lung Cancer. Medscape. Oct 28, 2013.