As part of the study, Haick and his team studied 74 patients at a Colorado clinic who were being checked for pulmonary growths between March 2009 and May 2010. According to research conducted by Haick and his team, cancer patients emit certain characteristic elements in their breath. Researchers had the patients breathe out using a special device invented by Haick, and their breath was analyzed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (two chemical analysis methods for vapors), along with information from chemical nanoarrays developed by Haick and his team.
The data distilled from the tests was stored, and compared with more traditional methods of judging a growth’s malignancy, such as bronchoscopy, wedge resection, or lobectomy. After 24 months — time enough for doctors to see whether a growth was malignant — the results were compared with the data from the breath tests.
The results were better than anticipated. Haick’s system accurately identified 53 malignant and 19 benign growths. And, in addition, the nanoarrays used by the team were able to successfully distinguish between squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma (important for treatment purposes), and whether or not the cancers were advanced or still in an early stage. The technique could be used on other cancers as well, depending on the analysis methods used, the Technion said.