Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancers. According to the World Health Organization, there were 2.2 million new lung cancer cases and 1.8 million people died from the disease in the year 2020. The researchers have published diagnostic study results in JAMA Network Open where they have used a technique to help in detecting lung cancer. This new test that has detected lung cancer from exhaled breath with 96% accuracy is faster than similar breath tests.
Mantang Qiu, a senior author of the study and research assistant at Peking University People’s Hospital, said, “There’s no effective and simple method to detect lung cancer.” “If we develop a breath test, eventually I hope we can develop a test that can be used at home,” he added. In this study, 289 healthy participants and 139 lung cancer patients diagnosed by CT scan were recruited. The patients exhaled through the mouth into a handheld collection device connected to an air bag. The bags were then sent to a laboratory for analysis with a technique called high-pressure photon ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry or HPPI-TOFMS.
The team used the results to train a machine-learning algorithm to find differences between healthy and lung cancer patients’ samples. They tested how well the model was able to classify 65 healthy and 30 cancer samples. Then, they validated the model with additional 47 samples to correct the diagnosis. The model had accurately diagnosed all 19 lung cancer samples. Out of the 28 healthy samples, the model accurately classified 26 samples. Overall, the scores offer model accuracy of 96%.
One of the limitations of the study is that the researchers had a relatively small samples size. Also, it did not validate the model with independent data set. As of future work, the researchers will examine the differences in volatile organic compounds in lung cancer patients as compared with those with benign nodules. The ultimate aim is to develop an at-home breath test so that people can regularly test themselves for lung cancers. Doing regular breathing exercises is also beneficial for lung cancer patients.
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