munich, germany: A preliminary study of exhaled breath suggests that temperatures above 34°C may be a strong indicator of the presence of lung cancer. In a sample of 82 patients who presented with clinical suspicion of lung cancer, 96% of the patients had the disease.
“Airway inflammation and angiogenesis play a key role in the pathogenesis of lung cancer,” Giulia Scioscia, MD, fellow in pulmonary medicine at Hospital Clínic i Provincial de Barcelona, told a conference release here at the european respiratory society (ers) international congress 2014. “exhaled breath temperature has been shown to be an indicator of airway inflammation and increased vascularity. the goal of our research is to determine the possible correlations of exhaled breath with progression, metastasis, or other clinical outcomes in cancer patients.”
Researchers tried to find breath temperature values that correlated with lung cancer. analyzed 82 consecutive participants with radiological suspicion of lung cancer using the x-halo breath thermometer (delmedica inversions). lung cancer was later diagnosed in 40 people. a total of 42 did not have lung cancer and served as controls. all patients underwent standard diagnostic and staging procedures.
The team compared breath temperature in lung cancer patients and controls across several categories, including by gender, age, smoking status, and the presence or absence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. in each category, people with cancer had statistically significantly higher breath temperatures than controls.
The researchers then used a receptor operating characteristic curve to determine an ideal temperature threshold for signaling lung cancer. this analysis showed that values above 34 °C would be a good cut-off point. the majority, 96%, with breath temperatures in that range were found to have lung cancer.
The researchers emphasized that this was a pilot study. “It’s not sensitive enough,” co-author Giovanna Elisiana Carpagnano, MD, of the University of Foggia in Italy, told the news conference. however, dr. carpagnano added that he could eventually become part of a selection panel. the researchers plan to explore the test in patients with other inflammatory conditions to get a better idea of its performance.
“I think the data is quite interesting,” chairman of the lung cancer group of ers fernando gamarra, md, of klinikum st. elisabeth straubing in germany, told medscape medical news. It’s also a novel. “I’m not aware of anyone doing it before,” he added. dr Gamarra said he thinks researchers will have to take into account other factors that could affect breath temperature, such as whether a person is currently smoking, how fast they exhale, or overall size. heavier people may have a higher breath temperature, he pointed out.
It also remains to be seen whether the approach could work consistently in early-stage cancers, the population that would benefit most from screening. the current study was based on patients who were already presenting to a hospital, so they tended to have more advanced disease, although the researchers noted higher temperatures even in early cancers. “I’d like to see a study in a limited group, let’s say just stage 1 or 2 patients,” says dr. said gamarra.
dr. Scioscia, Dr. carpagnano and dr. Gamarra has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
international congress of the european respiratory society (ers) 2014: abstract 1928. presented on September 8, 2014.