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New medical device could diagnose mesothelioma through breath sample

People who have been exposed to asbestos should get tested to determine if they have developed any diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. But the invasive procedure may cause some to put off going to the doctor.

But a recent development could change all that. Two research departments from two different European universities believe that a new device could diagnose mesothelioma simply by testing a patient's breath.

The device itself has been described as an "electronic nose", calibrated to test a number of organic compounds that can be traced through someone's breath. The study looked at three different groups of people: patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, patients exposed to asbestos but mesothelioma-free, and healthy individuals.

Testing the device several times, researchers found it was approximately 80 percent accurate in determining whether a patient had mesothelioma. Though the results were the same in a number of different test runs, researchers plan to continue performing test to make sure that the results are consistent.

Prior to this particular device, diagnosing mesothelioma required a biopsy. A thin tube was inserted into the chest and doctors would remove a piece of the tissue. But this particular procedure can do more harm to a patient than help -- there was a risk of the lung collapsing or blood loss.

This could pave the way for a new way to diagnose mesothelioma. When a person is exposed to asbestos and has contracted some type of lung disease or illness, there are already a number of physical implications, If the disease can be diagnosed earlier and more accurately, the patient can quickly get the medical help they need.

Source: Medical News Today: "Mesothelioma Breath Test Hope," Catharine Paddock, Ph.D., Nov. 11, 2011

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