Think Pink: Israeli Researchers Devise Way To Sniff Out Early Breast Cancer

Scientists at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center have devised a new method to screen for early breast cancer that uses readily available technology to more accurately identify the disease’s biomarkers. In a study published in Computers in Biology and Medicine, the researchers showed that two inexpensive commercial electronic noses (e-nose) recognized unique breath patterns in women with breast cancer over 95 percent of the time. Additionally, their revamped statistical analyses of urine samples submitted both by healthy patients and those diagnosed with breast cancer were, on average, 85 percent accurate. “Breast cancer survival is strongly tied to the sensitivity of tumor detection, [therefore] accurate methods for detecting smaller, earlier tumors remains a priority,” explained Professor Yehuda Zeiri of Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Our new approach utilizing urine and exhaled breath samples, analyzed with inexpensive, commercially available processes, is non-invasive, accessible and may be easily implemented in a variety of settings.” The scientists’ findings are significant given that mammography screenings, which are proven to greatly reduce breast cancer mortality, are not always able to detect small tumors in dense tissue (a typical mammogram, which is 75 to 85 percent accurate, can only spot small tumors at a rate of 30 to 50 percent in dense tissue.) Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among females with more than a quarter of a million women in the United States diagnosed each year.

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