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Eur Respir J. 2009 Jul;34(1):261-75. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00142508.

Exhaled biomarkers in lung cancer.

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Semmelweis University, Department of Pulmonology, Diósárok u. 1/c., 1125 Budapest, Hungary.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Results of therapeutic interventions are particularly discouraging when the disease is discovered in an advanced stage. Early diagnosis is limited by the fact that the disease usually develops asymptomatically and available screening methods do not fulfil the requirements for reliable discrimination between patients with lung cancer and subjects not suffering from the disease. Breath sampling is completely noninvasive and provides a potentially useful approach to screening lung cancer. Exhaled biomarkers contain both volatile and nonvolatile molecules. The profile of volatile organic compounds is different in patients with lung cancer than in control subjects. In exhaled breath condensate, the proteomic profile of breath from cancer patients differs from that of healthy smokers. We reviewed the scientific evidence demonstrating that a unique chemical signature can be detected in the breath of patients with lung cancer and that the exhaled breath biomarker profile could aid clinical decision making.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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