Reseachers are testing a breathalyzer for cancer

For doctors, catching lung cancer can be tricky even on a good day. That’s why a new study presented in front of the European Respiratory Society in Munich today seems so titillating: you see, researchers may have figured out a way to detect lung cancer in patients just by measuring the temperature of their breath.

The study saw 82 people (40 with a positive diagnosis and 42 with a negative diagnosis) get tested with a breath thermometer commonly used for people with asthma. The results? Researchers discovered that the patients diagnosed with lung cancer tended to exhale warmer air than those who didn’t, and they claim to have found the temperature threshold that seems to accurately signify when cancer is present. You’d be forgiven for thinking this whole thing sounds a little crazy. After all, the process now usually involves doctors scrutinizing CT scans or performing biopsies on lung tissue, and similar efforts that involved testing a patient’s breath seemed way more complex. There’s still plenty (and we mean plenty) of testing that needs to happen, but there’s now hope for something seriously huge: a dead-simple, totally non-invasive cancer test that you could take at your local doctor’s office some day.


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