Cancer diagnosis is at a rate of 12.7 million people annually. The rise in cancer rates leads me, and many others, to question my own mortality. Cancer, or the “Big C,” is scary. But studies show that if cancer is diagnosed early enough, the risk of death is reduced drastically.
The issue is that diagnosis often occurs after a person is already sick and feeling weak.
But there’s renewed hope for breast cancer sufferers and anyone at risk of getting breast cancer. Statistics show that 12% of women – that’s a huge number – will have breast cancer at least once during their lifetime.
I didn’t know, and I am assuming I’m not alone, that the only form of cancer that kills more women is lung cancer. About 2.6% of women that develop breast cancer will die from it.
A major issue facing women is that they’re not able to detect breast cancer early enough. If detection is late, this can lead to an advanced form of cancer that is difficult to treat.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center are going to fix that problem. The researchers have discovered a breakthrough, using breath and urine tests, that has a 95% accuracy rate for early breast cancer detection.
Inexpensive, commercially-available devices were used to make this a viable form of cancer detection. Breath patterns in women are detected using an electronic nose device. Women that suffer with breast cancer have their breathing patterns altered, which the researchers utilize for this portion of the test.
Gas-chromatography was used to better analyze urine and detect substances in the urine that indicate the presence of cancer.
“Our new approach utilizing urine and exhaled breath samples, analyzed with inexpensive, commercially available processes, is non-invasive, accessible and may be easily implemented in a variety of settings,” states researchers.
What’s interesting is that mammograms, the current technology used to detect breast cancer, are dated. The technology can greatly reduce cancer mortality, yet it’s difficult to detect small tumors in the breast tissue. The density of the breast tissue will also alter the effectiveness of the test. Surgeries, including breast reduction, do not impact this detection either.
Mammograms have a 75% – 85% accuracy rate, which falls down to 30% – 50% in denser breast tissue.
Women that have breast cancer in the family may be able to detect the cancer now, whereas detection was less likely in the early stages of tumor formation. Scientists also suggest that this is just the start of what the technology can do.
“We’ve now shown that inexpensive, commercial electronic noses are sufficient for classifying cancer patients at early stages,” said Professor Yehuda Zeiri. “With further study, it may also be possible to analyze exhaled breath and urine samples to identify other cancer types as well.”
Israel has been at the forefront of medical technology for years, but the ability to detect cancer earlier gives me hope that future generations may be able to combat this disease, allowing our youth to live happier, healthier lives.