Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breath Test May Spot Lung Cancer

Researchers report test could also differentiate early and late stages of the disease


Researchers for years have been investigating ways to detect lung cancer from a person's breath. For example, a 2011 study reported that dogs had been trained to reliably sniff out lung cancer in human breath.

Recent advances in technology have allowed scientists to create devices that can detect these particles down to one part per trillion, vastly improving the ability to create detailed cancer scent signatures, Peled said.

The new study involved 358 people located in the United States and Israel. Of those, 213 had lung cancer and of those, 143 had advanced-stage cancer. Another 145 did not have lung cancer.

Doctors had the patients blow into a balloon, which was then attached to a very sensitive gold nanoparticle sensor. Technion Institute, a laboratory in Haifa, Israel, then analyzed the particles in the sensor trap for volatile organic compounds that are evidence of lung cancer.

The device and subsequent analysis accurately sorted healthy people from people with early-stage lung cancer 85 percent of the time, and healthy people from those with advanced lung cancer 82 percent of the time, researchers said.

The test also accurately distinguished between early and advanced lung cancer 79 percent of the time.

The device could prove valuable in helping determine patients who need more intensive screening for lung cancer, Patel and Peled said.

"We're hoping to have a device that would be able to give you a go/no go result -- hey buddy, something's wrong, go get an X-ray," Peled said.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that older smokers at high risk for lung cancer receive annual low-dose CT scans, but an advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recommended against Medicare picking up the tab for those tests.

The estimated cost to Medicare for CT lung cancer screening and subsequent treatment is $9.3 billion over five years, according to another study presented at ASCO over the weekend.

Critics also point out that the CT scans produce a large number of false positives, usually by detecting noncancerous lung nodules.

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options