An Electronic Sensor Could Sniff Out Ovarian Cancer

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A team of researchers in Israel at the Technion−Israel Institute of Technology developed a set of sophisticated sensors that can essentially “sniff” out ovarian cancer in the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in patient’s breath samples. The sensors capture thousands of VOC during exhalation and mark the differences in each person’s breath.

Nicole Kahn, the study’s lead author, says, “Changes in metabolism that accompany a specific illness cause changes in the composition and/or concentration of VOCs in the breath and form a distinct pattern.” The patterns can then be matched to specific illnesses and catch diseases and cancers early. “A training set of breath samples collected from sick and control individuals is used to teach the array of what a sick person’s breath looks like,” says Kahn. By “teaching” the breath sensors what to look for, they are able to diagnose people by only taking a sample of their exhalation.

The team used the sensor to test the breath of 43 volunteers that included 17 ovarian cancer patients and achieved a remarkable 82% accuracy rate in detecting those with ovarian cancer. This is an exciting achievement in detecting a cancer that is currently very difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms like abdominal pain and frequent urination are so subtle and easily missed. Other more invasive ways to diagnose disease, like exploratory surgery, could be greatly decreased because of a tool like this.

Here at Nevada Surgery and Cancer Center, Dr. Lynn D. Kowalski makes it a priority to stay current in the latest technologies in medical care. Dr. Kowalski specializes in robot-assisted surgery with Da Vinci Surgery Systems, a minimally invasive hysterectomy surgery that leaves little scarring and helps the patient recover much faster with shorter hospital stays. Although Dr. Kowalski has been an experienced doctor since the 1980’s, she realized the importance of medical advancements in hysterectomy technology when she underwent her own robot-assisted hysterectomy. The operation left her feeling great after only a few days, whereas old fashioned hysterectomies usually leave women bedridden for up to 8-10 weeks.

The NVSCC is hopeful for the future of gynecological care and cancer awareness during a time when big leaps in science such as a simple breath test could help diagnose cancer patients. If you or someone you know is in need of a hysterectomy, Dr. Kowalski has performed over 1,000 robot-assisted surgeries, and is a leading expert in gynecological health in the Las Vegas area. Make your appointment today by contacting us on our website or calling 702-739-6467 today.

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