Funded by the Louisville Friends of V
Lung cancer is responsible for more cancer deaths each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. Part of the problem resides in the lack of symptoms associated with lung cancer – many patients already have advanced disease on presentation. Currently, the best method for identifying lung cancer involves computed tomography (CT scans) of the chest; while this has been demonstrated to improve cancer mortality by identifying earlier stage cancers, it also identifies multiple nodules within the lungs that are not malignant. In an effort to more precisely diagnose early stage lung cancer in at risk individuals, our group has turned to breath analysis. Human breath contains thousands of compounds from atomic hydrogen to complex biological molecules. Recently a class of organic compounds known as carbonyls have been associated with lung cancer. Our research group has devised a simple method to extract and measure these compounds from a single breath. We have identified four specific cancer markers among these compounds – the chance of having cancer increases with the number of elevated cancer markers identified in the patient’s breath. The proposed project seeks to determine if breath analysis is as effective as CT scan in screening for lung cancer by comparing the two methods in the same patients. We will also study patients after a cancer has been resected to determine if recurrence of cancer can be effectively detected by breath analysis relative to CT scanning.