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Breathalyzer test may help diagnose Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a serious cancer that attacks the ultra thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused by long term exposure to asbestos fibers that are breathed into the body. The most common type of the cancer is Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma or MPM which affects the lungs and often requires drastic surgical treatment or painful radiation or chemotherapy.

Part of what makes mesothelioma such a bleak diagnosis is that the cancer can take years to develop in the body before any symptoms manifest to alert the victim that something is wrong. Diagnosis requires a very risky thorascopic biopsy. The patient runs the risk of a collapsed lung, blood loss or embolism when the surgeon inserts a small tube through an opening he created in the chest. A new device brings hope that patients with mesothelioma could be diagnosed earlier and painlessly.

The device is a type of breathalyzer, an electronic nose that can detect MPM. Cyranose 320 takes a sample of the patient's breath, analyzes the volatile organic compounds and creates a "breathprint."

Researchers who developed the device recently published successful results of a study in the journal Lung Cancer. The study asked for volunteers who are healthy with no previous exposure to asbestos to act as the constant. The researchers also asked for volunteers with long term asbestos exposure but no diagnosed mesothelioma and those who have been clinically diagnosed.

The conclusions drawn were extraordinary in terms of technological development. Researchers studied the tests and found that in at least 80 percent of the tests, the electronic nose was able to detect which patients had MPM, which ones had long term exposure but no developed mesothelioma and those that were completely healthy. The percentage of accurate detection increased to 85 percent when only distinguishing those with MPM to healthy individuals.

Source: Medical News Today, "Mesothelioma Breath Test Hope," Catharine Paddock PhD, Nov. 11, 2011

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