Medical Minute 10-19: Breast Cancer Breathalyzer

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Carol Witcher says her dog Floyd Henry knew something was wrong before she did.

"He looked at me strangely and pushed and snorted my right breast and pushed and snorted my right breast and pushed and snorted and pushed and snorted. And I'm thinkin' somethin's not right!" she said.

Turns out that dog knew the score. Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a breath test confirmed it. The experimental test measures organic compounds expelled from the lungs, and identifies the ones linked to breast cancer.

"The big difference is now you go in you get your breast crushed and they do a radiological test... what this does you just breathe into it and we measure just from the breath," said Charlene Bayer, Ph.D., GA Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, GA.

A pilot study shows the test was 77-percent accurate in distinguishing cancer. For mammograms, the success rate is 80-percent. For women, this means potentially instant screening, as most mammograms last from 15-minutes to one hour.

"Very exciting to potentially put this in the primary care physicians office as again a direct read system where a patient could be told right away yes it looks like something's there, go an get your mammogram earlier," said Sheryl Gabram, M.D., Emory University Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, GA.

"And last May, she said Carol, you're cancer free," said Carol Witcher.

Thanks to early detection and treatment Carol's cancer is behind her. Meaning her dog has got plenty to sing about.

For More Information, Contact:Georgia Institute of Technology Abby Vogel - Media

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