Researchers create a breath test for detecting HNC

A team of international researchers has created a portable device that can identify head and neck cancer (HNC) by analyzing a patient's breath.

The device was created in part by researchers in Switzerland and Japan. It uses microsensors that can pick up on nuances in the organic substances produced by cancerous cells as opposed to healthy ones.

"There are already methods for detecting molecules called 'electronic noses' on the market. But they have a hard time analyzing very complex gases like human breath," stated Nico de Rooij, lead researcher on the project, in a press release. "Humidity in particular can disrupt the reading, leading to false positives or false negatives." With the new sensors, the detection process becomes more accurate.

The researchers tested their device on patients who had undergone or were currently undergoing treatment for HNC. Their sensors effectively distinguished nuances in the breath between the sick and healthy patients.

The sensors work on both smartphones and computers, and one company has already expressed interest in marketing the device.

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