Vol 83, No 10 (2012)

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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath of patients with breast cancer in a clinical setting

Dorothee Speiser, Achim Schneider, Oliver Staeck, Cornelia Freitag, Malgorzata Lanowska, Mandy Mangler
Ginekol Pol 2012;83(10).


Background: Carcinogenic products in the exhaled breath of cancer patients are of growing medical interest as they can serve as noninvasive disease markers. Breath analysis can be used as an alternative or complementary diagnostic tool in breast cancer patients who have a different pattern of chemical composition in their breath. This study aims to verify the existence of specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath of breast cancer patients. Methods: This prospective study included ten patients suffering from breast cancer and ten healthy pair-matched women. Breath samples of each member of the two respective groups were taken and scanned by gas chromatography/mass spectometry for the presence of volatile organic compounds such as alkanes, ketones, halogenated hydrocarbon, aldehydes, and esters. Results: The spectrum of VOCs differed significantly within the two groups. Five specific VOCs could be identified as typical discriminatory markers in the breath samples. Four VOCs were elevated in the healthy controls, one specific VOC was found to be elevated in women affected by breast cancer. Conclusions: This pilot study revealed a specific VOC pattern using gas chromatography in the breath of breast cancer patients. Five specific breast cancer-VOCs were identified. At relatively low cost the identification of VOCs may be used to detect breast cancer.

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