Back in January 2018 we wrote about a study using gas chromatography to diagnose mesothelioma. Further research has been done in this area and the results are exciting for the mesothelioma community.

Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium have reviewed six studies that looked at breath analysis to see if this is an accurate method for diagnosing asbestos disease, including mesothelioma.

How is mesothelioma diagnosed?

The most common way to diagnosed mesothelioma is to take a biopsy of the tumour and view the cells under a microscope.

Taking a biopsy requires an invasive procedure and some patients with suspected mesothelioma are not able to undergo this kind of operation and therefore are unable to have a diagnosis of mesothelioma confirmed during their lifetime.

Exhaled breath analysis

Being able to diagnose a condition using exhaled breath would be quicker, cheaper and more efficient than diagnosing through a biopsy. This can be called e-nose technology.

Cancer causes the body to have biochemical changes and these produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are release in exhaled breath. Different cancers produce different VOCs and so by analysing these in exhaled breath, researchers should be able to diagnose the type of cancer that produced them.

The study

Researchers reviewed six previous studies and found that the results were promising. Lead researcher, Zehra Nur Töreyin said, “Some compounds…that can be indicative of malignant pleural mesothelioma development in asbestos exposed population were identified with high diagnostic accuracy rates.”

Although initial results seem to be accurate, further research is needed. The study found that the existing studies were too small to be able to apply the results to clinical practice. The methodology in each study was different and this raises queries over which technology works best and how this kind of diagnosis should be done.

We will of course keep you up to date on any breakthroughs in this field.

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


Töreyin ZN, et al, “Exhaled Breath Analysis in Diagnosis of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Systematic Review”, February 10, 2020, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,


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