Can new ‘Electronic Nose’ Device Diagnose Mesothelioma by Someone’s Breath?

Human nose

Can cancer be detected by smell? Some researchers believe so.

Italian and Dutch researchers created an “electronic nose” device that may be able to determine if someone has malignant pleural mesothelioma simply by sampling a patient’s breath.

One day, this may mean no more biopsies, no more CT scans and no more complications involved with the diagnostic process.That, at least, is the hope.

A Breakthrough Product

The device, called a Cyranose 320, evaluates an individual’s “breath print” in search of dangerous organic compounds related to mesothelioma.

Identification of certain compounds within a patient’s breath will alert the device that the cancer may exist, allowing doctors to take the necessary action to mitigate the detriment

Early testing has yielded promising results. The device, in 80 percent of cases, was able to determine people who had pleural mesothelioma compared to healthy individuals and those with some long-term asbestos exposure but no cancer.

Promising Results

Data was conducted by analyzing 39 people in three groups: 13 patients with confirmed cases of pleural mesothelioma, confirmed by way of biopsy; 13 healthy individuals with no known asbestos exposure; and 13 people with known asbestos exposure but no signs of pleural cancer.

The Cyranose 320 found a distinction between people with this type of cancer and those with prolonged asbestos exposure but no cancer with an 80 percent accuracy rate.

When patients were compared to healthy individuals, the device was able to determine the distinction with an 85-percent accuracy rate.

Patients who have been diagnosed through procedures like a thoracoscopy, which is the use of a long tube through the chest to analyze a small tissue sample, or an excisional biopsy, which removes the affect area of the body to analyze a tissue sample, may appreciate the convenience and simplicity of this potential diagnostic breakthrough.

The researchers from the University of Bari in Italy and the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands are hopeful for continued improvement of the device.

Advancements with mesothelioma research, like that of the Cyranose 320, are more reasons for mesothelioma patients to remain hopeful during their battle with this rare yet dangerous disease.


Mark Hall joined the Mesothelioma Center as a writer in 2011. Prior to joining the content team, Mark graduated from the University of Florida and then spent several years writing about business, entrepreneurship and technology for various online publications.

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