Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center have developed a new method for early and accurate breast cancer screening using commercially available technology. In their study published in Computers in Biology and Medicine, researchers detected breast cancer with more than 95 percent average accuracy using an inexpensive commercial electronic nose (e-nose) that identifies unique breath patterns in women with breast cancer. In addition, their revamped statistical analyses of urine samples submitted both by healthy patients and those diagnosed with breast cancer yielded 85 percent average accuracy.
This is an incredible development considering that more than 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least five years compared to around 15 percent for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy among females and the leading cause of death around the world. In 2016, breast cancer accounted for 29 percent of all new cancers identified in the United States and was responsible for 14 percent of all cancer-related deaths.
Mammography screenings, which are proven to significantly reduce breast cancer mortality, are not always able to detect small tumors in dense breast tissue. In fact, typical mammography sensitivity, which is 75 to 85 percent accurate, decreases to 30 to 50 percent in dense tissue.
Current diagnostic imaging detection for smaller tumors has significant drawbacks: dual-energy digital mammography, while effective, increases radiation exposure, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is expensive. Biopsies and serum biomarker identification processes are invasive, equipment-intensive and require significant expertise.
Professor Yehuda Zeiri, Ph.D., states: “We’ve now shown that inexpensive, commercial electronic noses are sufficient for classifying cancer patients at early stages. With further study, it may also be possible to analyze exhaled breath and urine samples to identify other cancer types, as well.”
How does this work? “Disease changes the way a body works. When disease leads to enhancement of new and different biochemical processes in the body, these processes may lead to the production of small volatile molecules,” he explains. “These [molecules]can be transported by the blood to the lungs and be released in exhaled breath; they can also be released in the urine and sweat.”
In the future, doctors may be able to spot cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other conditions solely by their smell or “breath print”—and well before other symptoms show up.
Source: Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, of Cariodontal (310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-282-0310 or visit Cariodontal.com.