A simple invention could save thousands of lives and drastically reduce the amount of time and expense in screening patients for cancer.
The cancer-detecting breathalyzer system was unveiled on June 2 at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago and is able to detect the early signs of breast and lung cancer.
It is still awaiting clinical trials but may provide an alternative method to current screening processes using large scanners which are both expensive and invasive.
The cancer breathalyzer was developed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The test works by a patient blowing into a tube and the breath being captured in a specialized storage container.
It can be stored for up to six weeks in proper refrigeration.
The breath is then sent to a lab where a chemical sensor is applied to look for the compounds given off by a body that has cancerous cells.
The device offers an alternative to the physical discomfort of CAT scans and mammograms. It would also see the cost of testing for breast cancer drop from around $800 to $100, according to digg.com.
The breathalyser test holds even more importance for those in third world countries and remote areas with the relative ease and lower expense of the invention.
It would make it easier to test for cancer in patients who live in hard to reach regions in the jungle or mountain as the breathalyser is transportable.
According to Charlene Bayer, a lead researcher on the project, the breathalyzer would not eliminate the need for further tests but it could be a simpler way to determine whether a patient needs them.
She also told InnovationNewsDaily.com: ‘Most of the directions people are moving in are toward the more complex, the more expensive. I wanted something that’s rugged, cheap and easy enough to be done at a routine physical.’
The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has estimated that 226,870 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 39,510 women will die of the disease in 2012.
Some 116,470 men and 109,690 women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer this year while 160,340 people will die of the illness.