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An Electronic Nose is Used to Detect Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

A new malignant pleural mesothelioma screening device may be on the horizon, according to researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Bari, Italy.  Using an electronic nose, the researchers reported in Lung Cancer that the exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) left a “breathprint” identifying mesothelioma in the person.

For years, researchers have been trying to find a noninvasive, reliable early detection method for the deadly asbestos-caused cancer.  Mesothelioma can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but once the disease has reached an advanced stage average survival is often less than one year.   Early detection of mesothelioma can positively influence patients’ survival by increasing treatment options and improving their quality of life while battling the cancer.

Earlier this year, researchers in Japan used dogs to sniff out mesothelioma in patients.  The dogs were able to distinguish the disease through VOCs, and the researchers’ next step was to identify the chemical makeup of the samples that allowed the animals to detect the cancer.

In this study, researchers compared the exhaled air of patients with mesothelioma to subjects with long-term asbestos exposure and to healthy subjects with no known asbestos exposure.  The breathprints from the mesothelioma patients were distinguished as having mesothelioma from the other subjects in over 80% of the cases.  Upon repeating the tests the researchers got the same results.

The researchers concluded that the “molecular pattern recognition of exhaled breath can correctly distinguish patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma from subjects with similar occupational asbestos exposure without malignant pleural mesothelioma and from healthy controls.”

The results of this study are extremely promising and offer hope to the millions of Americans that have been exposed to asbestos in the past that a simple test can lead to early treatment of the often deadly disease.  Most often mesothelioma diagnoses are not made until symptoms appear and the disease has progressed to an advanced stage leaving the patient with life-threatening complications.  However, early detection can mean a difference in the patient’s survival and quality of life.




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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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