Although still in investigative stages, the electronic nose (eNose) may help to screen for lung cancer among individuals at a high risk of developing lung cancer. These results were recently presented the 14thannual World Conference on Lung Cancer sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. A main reason for the lethality of the disease is that the vast majority of patients are diagnosed once the cancer is advanced. Therefore, there is a great deal of interest in developing screening measures that can detect lung cancer at an early stage among individuals at high risk of the disease.
The eNose is a device that detects specific molecules in exhaled breath, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The process for eNose testing for the patient is relatively simple: it involves breathing into a bag that is attached to a machine that measures VOCs when the patient exhales.
Researchers from Australia recently conducted a trial to evaluate the accuracy of the eNose in detecting lung cancer. The trial included 26 patients who had already been diagnosed with lung cancer and 61 patients who did not have lung cancer, but had a 30-pack year smoking history.
- The eNose differentiated VOCs from lung cancer patients from those with a 30-pack year smoking history with 86% accuracy.
- It did not distinguish between different types of lung cancer.
The researchers from this trial stated that the “eNose does have the potential to be a clinically useful diagnostic and screening tool for lung cancer, however may not be able to discriminate between cancer types”.
Reference: Dent A, Bowman R, Paul Z, et al. Electronic Nose Distinguishes Lung Cancer from Healthy Ever Smokers. Paper presented at the 2011 World Conference on Lung Cancer. July 3-7, 2011. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Abstract #O46.06.