Early diagnosis of mesothelioma is key for the best chance of survival and the best treatment options. Currently, diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma relies on invasive biopsy procedures, costly x-rays and scans. However, a new, simple test could change all of that. Researchers are investigating whether mesothelioma could be diagnosed with a breath test.
Researchers at a number of Belgian universities and the University of Amsterdam have used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and eNose technologies to see if pleural mesothelioma can be detected through a breath test. 64 participants gave samples. These participants included:
- 14 people with malignant pleural mesothelioma
- 15 people with other asbestos related conditions
- 19 people who had been exposed to asbestos but did not have the symptoms of any asbestos condition
- 16 healthy people
The researchers tested the breath samples for volatile organic compounds (VOC). The compounds provide information about the metabolism of cells which can indicate disease.
The GC-MS system was able to identify people with pleural mesothelioma 100% of the time. It was also able to identify people who did not have pleural mesothelioma 91% of the time. Comparatively, the eNose system was not quite so accurate and only correctly identified pleural mesothelioma 82% of the time.
The researchers were pleased with the results. They stated, “This study shows accurate discrimination of patients with MPM from asymptomatic asbestos-exposed persons at risk by GC-MS and eNose analysis of exhaled VOCs and provides proof-of-principle of breath analysis for MPM screening.”
This is positive news for anyone who has been exposed to asbestos. A breath test is a quick, cheap and non-invasive procedure which could lead to early detection and treatment of the disease.
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Lamote, K, et al, “Breath analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and electronic nose to screen for pleural mesothelioma: a cross-sectional case-control study”, September 27, 2017, Oncotarget, pp. 91593-91602