Posted on Sep 10, 2014

Scientists from Italy announced that the temperature of breath could be a giveaway for tumors within the lungs.

This announcement, made at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, located in Munich, came after a continuing effort to find less invasive ways of detecting lung cancer.

A lung biopsy is an invasive process where a small piece of lung tissue is removed.

There are 4 ways to do a biopsy:

  1. Bronchoscopic biopsy, a lighted instrument is inserted through the mouth or nose and into the airway to remove a lung tissue sample,
  2. Needle biopsy, a long needle is inserted through the chest wall to remove a sample of lung tissue,
  3. Open biopsy, an incision is made between the ribs to remove a sample of lung tissue, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS),
  4. A scope passed through a small incision in the chest removes a sample of lung tissue.

The study involved 82 people who were referred for a full diagnostic test after an X-ray suggested the presence of lung cancer. 40 patients received a positive diagnosis, while 42 patients had the diagnosis rejected.

Giovanna Carpagnano, from the University of Foggia, said that among 82 people who showed potential signs of lung cancer on X-rays, those diagnosed with lung cancer had higher breath temperatures then those whore readings weren’t as high.

Researchers measured the temperature of exhaled breath using a breath thermometer device, known as an X-Halo device.

Although there are a multitude of factors that could contribute to breath temperature, researchers also discovered that temperature readings were high the more the participants had smoked, among those with later-stage cancer.

Although more research must be done, the efforts to find easier ways of diagnosing lung cancer that don’t require biopsies of lung tissue are gaining ground.

Scientists are also currently working on ways to identify and label the specific chemicals that tumors make and the odors tumors emit in the breath. If doctors and scientists are able to refine a test to diagnose lung cancer by measuring breath temperature, the diagnostic process will be significantly improved.

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Gerry Oginski
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