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Lung cancer could be detected by breathalyser

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A breathalyser test could soon be used to find out if patients have lung cancer.

A sensor that can quickly detect lung cancer molecules on the breath has been developed by scientists.

The technology could see portable breath-test devices being used - spotting the disease early and potentially saving many lives, the scientists said.

Breath samples from 40 diagnosed patients and 56 healthy people were compared to find the lung cancer biomarkers.

In 83% of tested cancer patients the researchers found 42 ‘volatile organic compounds’ (VOCs).

Using the results a nine-sensor array, made from tiny gold particles coated with reactive chemicals sensitive to the compounds, was developed.

The sensors generated an electrical signal that produced a distinctive trace pattern when exposed to the VOCs.

The device distinguished simulated ‘healthy’ and artificial ‘cancerous’ breath when tested.

Dr Hossam Haick, who led the Israeli scientists, has outlined the research in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Around 39,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK each year and 34,500 die from the disease.

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