Antwerp scientists develop breath test to discover mesothelioma lung cancer

Scientists working at the Antwerp university hospital (UZA) have developed a simple breath test to track down mesothelioma lung cancer in a very early stage, before symptoms pop up.

The testing device looks like the alcohol testers police use at road checks. People who want a check-up, as they fear they may develop asbestos cancer in their lungs, can have themselves tested easily by means of this breathing test. 

"This allows us to predict whether a patient will develop pleural mesothelioma", says researcher Kevin Lamote.  Each year some 300 people are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in Belgium. This usually happens at a later stage, as there are hardly any symptoms. "When you are diagnosed with the disease, it is a kind of death sentence", says Lamote, referring to the fact that many patients eventually die. 

"However, by offering this new type of test, we hope that people will come earlier (at a stage where they don't show any symptoms, editor's note) to detect it at an earlier stage, before the symptoms emerge. This will allow us to start treatments sooner, in order to improve chances of survival."