A nanomaterial-based breath test for short-term follow-up after lung tumor resection

Nanomedicine. 2013 Jan;9(1):15-21. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Sep 8.


In this case study, we demonstrate the feasibility of nanomaterial-based sensors for identifying the breath-print of early-stage lung cancer (LC) and for short-term follow-up after LC-resection. Breath samples were collected from a small patient cohort prior to and after lung resection. Gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry showed that five volatile organic compounds were significantly reduced after LC surgery. A nanomaterial-based sensor-array distinguished between pre-surgery and post-surgery LC states, as well as between pre-surgery LC and benign states. In contrast, the same sensor-array could neither distinguish between pre-surgery and post-surgery benign states, nor between LC and benign states after surgery. This indicates that the observed pattern is associated with the presence of malignant lung tumors. The proof-of-concept presented here has initiated a large-scale clinical study for post-surgery follow-up of LC patients.

From the clinical editor: Monitoring for tumor recurrence remains very challenging due to post-surgical and radiation therapy induced changes in target organs, which often renders standard radiological identification of recurrent malignancies inaccurate. In this paper a novel nanotechnology-based sensor array is used for identification of volatile organic compounds in exhaled air that enable identification of benign vs. malignant states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Nanotechnology*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis


  • Volatile Organic Compounds