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Breath Test For Lung Cancer Making Strides

People who are diagnosed with or suspected to have lung cancer may find a new test to track this disease in their future. Researchers are making headway on a “breath” test that may open the door to faster diagnosis and more effective treatment. Designed to seek out specific organic compounds associated with lung cancer, the new screening tool is showing great promise in trials so far.

A recent study related to the use of the screening test involved a group of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. All had a primary tumor in their lungs, but had different histological diagnoses. Researchers tracked patients undergoing treatment for lung cancer by using the breath test to help determine the treatment response. Ultimately, they found an 85 percent success rate in using the breath test to monitor the patients. Said to be much faster than the current gold standard CT scan and likely more affordable, the breath test can be administered at a patient’s bedside. What’s more, it may also have the ability to serve as a screening tool to assist in initial diagnosis.

Although still very much under study, the breath test may someday hold the key to more accurate early diagnosis of this disease. Researchers also hope it may help guide better outcomes by providing clinicians a faster way to determine if treatments are having an impact on lung cancer tumors. How soon the test might clear research hurdles to become more widely available remains unclear.

Lung cancer is estimated to strike more than 220,000 Americans each year. The disease claims roughly 155,000 lives annually. Early detection and treatment is considered critical for improving the chances of a positive outcome. While CT scans are used in early screening for some high-risk patients, they are not made widely available. Tests like the breath screen may someday make more widespread early screening available.

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