WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Specific compounds found in exhaled breath may help diagnose lung cancer in its early stages, U.S. researchers said Tuesday.
Researchers from the University of Louisville used a silicone microprocessor and a mass spectrometer to test exhaled breath for specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known as carbonyls from patients with suspected lung cancer.
The carbonyl compounds included aldehydes and ketones, which are organic compounds with a carbon double-bonded to oxygen. These compounds are at very low concentrations and produced by the human body.
After matching their findings with pathologic and clinical results, the researchers found that having elevated levels of three of the four carbonyls was predictive of lung cancer in 95 percent of patients and that the absence of elevated VOC levels " was predictive of a benign mass in 80 percent of patients."
Lead author Michael Bousamra, associate professor of the university, said that the data are preliminary.
Elevated carbonyl concentrations returned to normal after patients had surgery to remove their malignant nodules, according to the study, which was presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in Orlando.
"Instead of sending patients for invasive biopsy procedures when a suspicious lung mass is identified, our study suggests that exhaled breath could identify which patients may be directed for an immediate intraoperative biopsy and resection," Bousamra said in a statement.
"The novelty of this approach includes the simplicity of sample collection and ease for the patient," Bousamra added.