Breath test detects diabetes, cancer and other diseases

Here and Now

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Dr. Peter Mazzone, Pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, is developing a breath test that he calls an “electronic nose.” It sits on a cart, looks like a big computer, and his patients breath into a mouthpiece on the machine. The machine tells him what patterns of chemicals are coming out patients’ breath. This allows him to look for markers that might indicate diseases like diabetes, asthma or even lung cancer.

With the breath test, patients can avoid risky biopsies or expensive imaging scans. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say they have an 85 percent accuracy in spotting lung cancer using a breathalyzer.

The test is still in the research stage, but Dr. Mazzone tells Here and Now’s Robin Young that he thinks the test could also work with other types of cancers.

“Within the next few months we’ll also start looking to see if our breath test can identify people with colon cancer and breast cancer,” Mazzone said.

He predicts the breathalyzers will be available for use in clinics in a few years.


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