Breath test detects cancer before symptoms arise

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Doctors from Israel have developed a breath test that can diagnose patients with lung, breast, bowel and prostrate cancers before they even show symptoms of the disease.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that different types of cancer cells release different chemicals from their surface. These chemicals are released in the breath.

Scientists from the study took samples of breath from patients and stored them in an airtight container. They were then passed through a sensor that detected any chemicals produced by lung, breast, bowel or prostrate tumours.

Professor Abraham Kuten, one of the researchers, believes this machine has the potential to save hundreds of lives by detecting a number of cancers in a single non-invasive test. However, more research is needed before we will see an ‘electronic nose’ in a doctor’s surgery.

The equipment is still in the early stages of development, but the team from Technion Israel Institute of Technology hope that over the next few years they can develop it to test instantly whether a person has cancer.

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