Early Detection of Lung Cancer May Be Possible From
New test of suspected lung cancer is simple, with
high accuracy rate; encouraging to senior citizens – average age of
diagnosis today is about 70
28, 2014 - Specific compounds found in exhaled breath may help diagnose
lung cancer in its early stages, according to a study released today at
the 50th Annual Meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The
discovery was made when Michael Bousamra, MD. and researchers from the
University of Louisville examined patients with suspicious lung lesions.
Lung cancer mainly occurs in senior citizens - about 2
out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older.
Using a silicone microprocessor and mass
spectrometer, the researchers tested exhaled breath for the presence and
levels of specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs; aldehydes and
ketones, collectively called carbonyls) in patients with suspected lung
cancer that was detected on computed tomography scans. The researchers
then matched their findings with pathologic and clinical results.
Annual Report to the Nation on
status of cancer includes special feature
highlighting the contribution of other diseases on
survival of patients; declines in colorectal,
breast, and prostate cancer death rates help overall
“Although the data are preliminary, we found that
patients with an elevation of three or four cancer-specific carbonyl
compounds was predictive of lung cancer in 95% of patients with a
pulmonary nodule or mass,” said Dr. Bousamra. “Conversely, the absence
of elevated VOC levels was predictive of a benign mass in 80% of
The carbonyl compounds used in the study analysis
are a subset of VOCs called aldehydes and ketones, which are organic
compounds with a carbon double-bonded to oxygen. These compounds are at
very low concentrations and are produced by the human body.
“Instead of sending patients for invasive biopsy
procedures when a suspicious lung mass is identified, our study suggests
that exhaled breath could identify which patients may be directed for an
immediate intraoperative biopsy and resection,” said Dr. Bousamra. The
researchers found that elevated carbonyl concentrations returned to
normal following complete resection in patients with a malignant nodule.
Lung Cancer Statistics
Lung cancer is by far the
leading cause of cancer death among both men and women and
survival most often depends on the stage of the cancer when it
Despite the very serious
prognosis (outlook) of lung cancer, some people with earlier
stage cancers are cured. More than 380,000 people alive today
have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point.
>> About 228,190 new
cases of lung cancer (118,080 in men and 110,110 in women)
>> An estimated 159,480
deaths from lung cancer (87,260 in men and 72,220 among women),
accounting for about 27% of all cancer deaths
“The novelty of this approach includes the
simplicity of sample collection and ease for the patient,” said Dr.
The silicone microprocessor used in the study was
developed at the University of Louisville. It was coated with an
amino-oxy compound that binds to carbonyl compounds in exhaled breath.
The number of patients included in the analysis may
differ from what is reflected in the abstract due to further analysis
conducted by the authors.
Founded in 1964, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 6,800
cardiothoracic surgeons, researchers, and allied health care
professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible
outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as
other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to
enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest
quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy.
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