Breath and urine tests can detect breast cancer early


“We’ve now shown that inexpensive, commercial electronic noses are sufficient for classifying cancer patients at early stages.”
~ Professor Yehuda Zeiri, Ben-Gurion University

 

Researchers have discovered that exhaled breath and urine samples can provide a fast and inexpensive breast cancer diagnosis.

This early and accurate breast cancer screening is being done using commercially available technology. The researchers were able to isolate and accurately identify breast cancer biomarkers using breath and urine analysis. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center used an inexpensive electronic nose gas sensors (e-nose) and gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for urine analysis.

In their study, researchers detected breast cancer with more than 95% 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% average accuracy.

“Breast cancer survival is strongly tied to the sensitivity of tumor detection; accurate methods for detecting smaller, earlier tumors remains a priority,” says Prof. Yehuda Zeiri, a member of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Our new approach utilizing urine and exhaled breath samples, analyzed with inexpensive, commercially available processes, is non-invasive, accessible and may be easily implemented in a variety of settings.”

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

About 40,920 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989, due in part to earlier detection.

Mammography screenings, which are proven to reduce breast cancer mortality significantly, are not always able to detect small tumors in dense breast tissue. In fact, typical mammography sensitivity, which is 75 to 85% accurate, decreases to 30 to 50% 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.

“We’ve now shown that inexpensive, commercial electronic noses are sufficient for classifying cancer patients at early stages,” says Zeiri. “With further study, it may also be possible to analyze exhaled breath and urine samples to identify other cancer types, as well.”

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