Lung Cancer Breath Testing: A New Direction in Low-Cost Screening

Similar to blood, just about everything in the body ends up in a patient’s breath, allowing it to be an excellent medium for quick noninvasive diagnostic testing. Currently, there are several emerging breath tests for diagnosing asthma, H. pylori, and pharmaceutical levels in the body, and now, researchers are close to bringing a lung cancer application to market. Lung cancer is a difficult form of cancer to detect in its early stages, so an accurate breath test could have enormous and exciting benefits.

ScienceDaily has published several articles on emerging breath tests for lung cancer, and according Dr. Michael Phillips, M.D., FACP clinical professor of medicine at New York Medical College, The science behind biomarkers has been evolving for years. This type of technology will be able to look for biomarkers that can identify diseases such as breast cancer, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and much more. As a result, this should allow cancer screening to be easier and less costly in the future.

In my follow-up research using PubMed, I found that there were over 15,000 studies performed in the last 20 years for breath testing technologies. This parallels a recent interview I had with Dr. Stewart J. Levine, M.D., principal investigator in Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine Branch at National Institute of Health, in which he stated, The use of biomarkers is an up and coming field. n a couple of years, as mainstream technology catches up with science, we will start to see more of it. This is because research has really progressed in identifying biomarkers in a laboratory setting and in clinical trails.

In the last several years, I have been tracking at least four companies partnered with hospital researchers developing breath testing technology. Depending on the base technology, cost could be as low as $25 per test, which is good news for both clinicians and patients. Because this technology has the potential to make a huge impact, I will continue to follow this and provide information as lung cancer applications come closer to market.

James Laskaris, EE, BME
James Laskaris, EE, BME, Clinical Analyst — Mr. James Laskaris is a senior emerging technology analyst at MD Buyline and has been with the company since 1994. With over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Mr. Laskaris is the primary analyst of high-end OR technology. He also covers issues related to the legislative and reimbursement effect on healthcare and authors a bimonthly “Issues that Matter” publication. Mr. Laskaris received his biomedical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University. His work has been published in hfm Magazine, Radiology Manager and Healthcare Purchasing News.