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New Breath Test Could Detect Mesothelioma Earlier Than Other Diagnostic Methods

Jillian Duff covers pressing news for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Jillian Duff

September 29, 2016

New Breath Test Could Detect Mesothelioma Earlier Than Other Diagnostic MethodsGhent, Belgium - Belgian medical scientists have discovered a groundbreaking new way to potentially detect malignant pleural mesothelioma early simply by analyzing a patient’s breath.

Researchers at Gent University in Ghent, Belgium, published a paper earlier this week in the Journal of Breath Research that included the results of a study they conducted to analyze the breath signatures of approximately 65 people. The participants were broken down into three groups:

  • 23 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma
  • 22 former asbestos workers who did not show any symptoms of mesothelioma
  • 21 healthy individuals who had no known exposure to asbestos

After looking at each group, researchers were able to use a breath test to distinguish asymptomatic asbestos workers from those who had developed mesothelioma. The overall accuracy of the test was determined to be 87%, according to the published findings.

The breath test to detect mesothelioma uses a process known as multicapillary column/ion mobility spectrometry (MCC/IMS). It has been used as a way to detect other potentially harmful substances, known as volatile organic compounds, that have been inhaled.

The use of MCC/IMS to detect pleural mesothelioma relies on the fact that the vast majority of mesothelioma tumors develop in the linings of the lungs. This is because asbestos fibers are small, friable, and easily inhaled. Once they become embedded in the lung linings, they can cause inflammation that ultimately leads to the development of cancer.

Developing new methods of detecting mesothelioma, such as the MCC/IMS breath test, are incredibly important, because detecting mesothelioma early is the only way to improve prognosis. Also, as new diagnostic tests become more available and more reliable, they could potentially cut down on the need for more invasive and expensive tests, such as biopsies and exploratory surgeries.

Clinical trials continue to be conducted by researchers all around the world to find the best ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat mesothelioma. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can get get more information about clinical trials that may offer a better chance at survival.

Image courtesy IAEA Imagebank.

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