In a doctor’s office in the near future, part of a smoker’s routine checkup could involve blowing into a tube connected to a small sensor. The doctor will look at the sensor’s display and know immediately whether she has to deliver the grim diagnosis: lung cancer. Researchers in Israel have invented a new “breathalyzer” that can detect chemical compounds produced by lung cancer cells.
The finished device should be portable and inexpensive and provide a faster, easier, and more sensitive way to screen for tumours than X-rays or blood tests. Such screening should help doctors detect cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
The new device, described in Nature Nanotechnology, is not the first to find evidence of cancer on a person’s breath. Other attempts to do this have yielded promising results, but those devices require a……..