Breath and urine tests might be the future of breast cancer screening

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Researchers are hopeful that the initial stages of breast cancer might be able to be detected with a person’s breath or urine.

In a study published in Computers in Biology and Medicine, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Soroka Medical Center in Tel Aviv announced that they have developed the methods possible to accomplish such fast, affordable and noninvasive screenings.

By utilizing electronic nose gas sensors, researchers reported that they can identify unique breath patterns in women with breast cancer with a 95 percent average accuracy rate. They also used gas-chromatography mass spectrometry to test urine samples, achieving an 85 percent accuracy rate.

According to breastcancer.org, death rates from breast cancer are higher for U.S. women than those for any other cancer, except lung cancer. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancer.

Although mammography screenings are 75-85 percent accurate, they are not always capable of detecting small tumors in dense breast tissue. Fast Company reported, “Current diagnostic imaging detection for smaller tumors has significant drawbacks, including radiation exposure and expensive MRI tests. Biopsies and serum biomarker identification processes, meanwhile, are invasive and require significant expertise.”

Prof. Yehuda Zeiri, a member of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, said in a statement, “Breast cancer survival is strongly tied to the sensitivity of tumor detection; accurate methods for detecting smaller, earlier tumors remains a priority. We’ve now shown that inexpensive, commercial electronic noses are sufficient for classifying cancer patients at early stages.”

Zeiri said the researchers want to expand their research and that, “with further study, it may also be possible to analyze exhaled breath and urine samples to identify other cancer types, as well.”

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