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Breath Temperature Helps Diagnose Lung Cancer

First Posted: Sep 09, 2014 02:47 AM EDT
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A team of researchers has recently discovered that the temperature of exhaled breath can help diagnose lung cancer in its early stages.

The researchers at the University of Foggia, Italy, examined patients who were suspected to have lung cancer. According to them, the temperature of breath could be one simple and non-invasive technique to confirm if the person has lung cancer. Studies conducted earlier also looked at considering breath tests for diagnosis of a number of cancers. But, this is the first study that looked at breath temperature as a significant marker in lung cancer.

Lung cancer, also known as pulmonary carcinoma, is diagnosed in an estimated 174,000 Americans each year. It is one of the deadliest types of cancer. It is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S; and cigarette smoking is listed as the number one risk factor for lung cancer.

In the current study, the researchers looked at 82 subjects who were referred for a complete diagnostic test after an X-ray hinted towards the presence of lung cancer. Nearly 40 patients received a positive diagnosis and 42 patients had rejected the diagnosis. They then measured the temperature of the exhaled breath in all patients. This was done using a breath thermometer device called X-Halo device.

They noticed that those with lung cancer had a higher breath temperature than those without. The temperature gradually increases as the number of years a person had smoked and the stage at which their lung cancer had developed. A cut-off value was seen in the measurement of the temperature that helped accurately identify lung cancer with high level of accuracy.

Professor Giovanna Elisiana Carpagnano, lead author of the study from the University of Foggia, Italy, said: "Our results suggest that lung cancer causes an increase in the exhaled temperature. This is a significant finding and could change the way we currently diagnose the disease. If we are able to refine a test to diagnose lung cancer by measuring breath temperature, we will improve the diagnostic process by providing patients with a stress-free and simple test that is also cheaper and less intensive for clinicians."

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in Munich.

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