Breath temperature 'can help diagnose lung cancer'

Analysing a patient's exhaled breath temperature using a simple test could help diagnose lung cancer, research suggests.

The breath test could help diagnose lung cancer (Photo: SPL)
The breath test could help diagnose lung cancer (Photo: SPL)

Italian research found that an exhaled breath temperature over 34 degrees Celsius was strongly associated with a lung cancer diagnosis.

The researchers said that inflammation of the airways as a result of the condition could explain the rise in temperature.

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) congress in Munich, Germany, on Monday.

The study looked at 82 patients who had been referred for a full diagnostic test after an X-ray suggested the presence of lung cancer. Of these patients, 40 received a positive diagnosis of lung cancer.

Using a breath thermometer device, the researchers found that patients with lung cancer had a higher breath temperature than patients who did not have the disease.

Average normal breath temperature should be around 29 to 30 degrees Celsius. A higher reading – even by one or two degrees – may indicate that a patient’s airways are inflamed, which could be caused by an underlying condition, including lung cancer.

The study identified a cut-off value of 34 degrees Celsius as being strongly associated with a lung cancer diagnosis. Over 96% of patients with an exhaled breath temperature greater than this level received a lung cancer diagnosis in the study group, meaning the test could predict the condition with a high degree of accuracy.

Simple, non-invasive method

The technique offers clinicians a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive method of screening patients for lung cancer and other lung problems, the researchers said.

Lead author Professor Giovanna Carpagnano, from the University of Foggia, Italy, said: ‘Our results suggest that lung cancer causes an increase in the exhaled temperature.

‘This is a significant finding and could change the way we currently diagnose the disease. If we are able to refine a test to diagnose lung cancer by measuring breath temperature, we will improve the diagnostic process by providing patients with a stress-free and simple test that is also cheaper and less intensive for clinicians.’

But she added that breath tests alone do not currently ‘go far enough to give a diagnosis’ of lung cancer, and further tests are needed to fine-tune the process.

Professor Stephen Spiro, deputy chairman of the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘This research offers hope that in the future lung cancer may instead be diagnosed with less invasive and more straightforward methods.

‘While encouraging, this study looks only at established cases, and the real challenge will be to see if breath tests can identify lung cancer in its initial stages.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP training: Useful resources when preparing for the AKT

GP training: Useful resources when preparing for the AKT

Dr Branavan Anandasundaram highlights useful resources that GP trainees can use to...

GP training: How to succeed in the AKT

GP training: How to succeed in the AKT

Dr Branavan Anandasundaram passed the AKT earlier this year with a score of 89.5%....

Medico-legal: Advice on prescribing opioids

Medico-legal: Advice on prescribing opioids

The MDU's Dr Ellie Mein advises on how to avoid the medico-legal risks associated...

Map: How CQC ratings for general practice vary across England

Map: How CQC ratings for general practice vary across England

An overwhelming 95% of GP practices in England are rated either 'good' or 'outstanding'...

Rise in GP waiting times 'driving more patients to Google health advice'

Rise in GP waiting times 'driving more patients to Google health advice'

Longer waits for GP appointments may be pushing more patients to search for health...

GP locum rates continue to rise in most parts of the UK, poll reveals

GP locum rates continue to rise in most parts of the UK, poll reveals

Average hourly rates received by locums have risen across England over the past 12...