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.

The research

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.

How can we help?

If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos claim for mesothelioma please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767 or head over to our ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.


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

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