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James Nico Angelo L.

Sec 4B
Retrieved from:
Posted June 10, 2014 Kyleigh Roessner RN-BSN
Can a Simple Breath Test Save Someones Life?
Researchers have developed a breath test that has the ability to detect lung cancer and differentiate between
malignant or benign lesions. Though the technology is still in the early stages of development, it is a promising step
in the improved detection of lung cancer without invasive tests or CT imaging.
A Deadly Problem
Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, making up 28 percent of cancer deaths. This number makes up
more deaths from lung cancer than breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. The survival rate for
lung cancer can vary depending on where the tumors are found, but ultimately rests at a devastating 16.3 percent of
patients living five years after an initial diagnosis. Less than half the patients will survive one year after their
Preliminary Data Promising
New technology to detect lung cancer early is desperately needed, and this new breath test seems to fit the bill. The
test uses mass spectrometry and a silicon microprocessor to detect the presence of organic compounds that are
exhaled by patients with lung malignancies. The test found an elevation of three or four of these organic compounds
had a 95 percent predictive rate for malignancy. The absence of these elevated levels correctly predicted a benign
mass in 80 percent of patients.
Potential to Save Lives
Breath test technology would be a great way to acknowledge those patients in the early stages of lung cancer.
Patients with high risk factors could be identified and take the test before the disease spreads to other parts of the
body with a deadly cancer like this, the earlier a malignancy can be detected, the better the chance of successful
More Research Needed
Of course, to be instituted in practice, the breath test needs to be refined, tested on a mass scale and then developed
for routine use in hospitals and clinics. With further inquiry, it will hopefully lead to improved patient outcomes and
better survival rates. From a nurses perspective, its important to advocate for further research in this field and until
then, to continue to raise awareness of lung cancer screening and treatment. Additionally, nurses should recommend
that patients avoid smoking, as smoking is associated with over 80 percent of lung cancer cases. This includes
secondhand smoke exposure, because that also contributes to the development of malignancies in the lungs.
Todays nurses are in a unique position to take on both of these roles, to advocate for research and encourage
individual patients to take steps to improve their health.
With the development of such technology, this could further hasten the ability to diagnose a
patient. The health care team can act early when detected or when patients are high risk. Thus, there is a
better chance of a successful treatment. Knowing that one of the top causes of mortality is Lung Cancer,
this breath test will enable the health care provider to acknowledge and detect patients in the early stage
of Lung Cancer. Given that this technology wouldnt be invasive and expensive, the demand for this
would be high. Now whats left is to let it be developed and tested on more people. I fully support this
advancement for it will benefit both the health team and the patient with early detection of malignancies
or even benign masses.