Sniffing out Oral Cancer

Artificial nose picks up oral cancer with breath test

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Its' a new kind of breathalyzer test. But instead of checking blood alcohol levels, this new device can acutally sniff out oral cancer.

The new Nanoscale Artificial Nose (NA-NOSE) performs a simple breath test and can tell which patients have head-and-neck cancer or lung cancer or are free of oral cancer.

"Artificial nose may become new screening method for oral cancer."

Currently, there are no effective screening tools for oral cancer, which are curable. However, because of the lack of screening, most of these cancers are diagnosed at later, more serious stages.

As a result, cure rates are low - only one in two patients. And many sufferers develop secondary tumors that can require life-long monitoring.

Researchers gathered exhaled breath samples from 87 people. Participants were either healthy or had head-and-neck cancer or lung cancer.

The NA-NOSE, developed at the Israel Institute of Technology, was able to clearly distinguish between the groups by analyzing the chemical composition of the breath samples. Tests results were verified with advanced technology, including gas chromatography and mass spectrometry

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter says this first-ever study shows "excellent progress" as a screening method for a cancer that he says kills one person every five hours in the United Kingdom.

Authors suggest that with further study, the NA-NOSE may be developed into a cost-effective, fast and reliable way to diagnose head-and-neck cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society, some 49,260 people will develop head-and-neck cancer, which will call an estimated 11,480 deaths.

The study was published in the Journal of British Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 7, 2011
Last Updated:
July 13, 2011