Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
With 1.6 million deaths per year, lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. One reason for this high number is the absence of a preventive medical examination method. Many diagnoses occur in a late cancer stage with a low survival rate. An early detection could significantly decrease the mortality. In recent decades, certain substances in human breath have been linked to certain diseases. Different studies show that it is possible to distinguish between lung cancer patients and a healthy control group by analyzing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their breath. We developed a sensor based on photoacoustic spectroscopy for six of the most relevant VOCs linked to lung cancer. As a radiation source, the sensor uses an optical-parametric oscillator (OPO) in a wavelength region from 3.2 µm to 3.5 µm. The limits of detection for a single substance range between 5 ppb and 142 ppb. We also measured high resolution absorption spectra of the biomarkers compared to the data currently available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) database, which is the basis of any selective spectroscopic detection. Future lung cancer screening devices could be based on the further development of this sensor.