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An artificial nose could hold the key in detecting head-and-neck cancer (HNC), according to Israeli scientists.

The results have shown the man-made Nanoscale Artificial Nose (NA-NOSE), developed at the Israel Institute of Technology, can effectively distinguish between head-and-neck cancer patients, lung cancer patients and those free of oral cancer simply by sampling a breath test.

Head-and-neck cancer is the eighth most common curable cancer worldwide and is often diagnosed late due to a lack of successful screening methods.

Research suggests overall cure is achieved in less than one in two patients, while sufferers often develop a second primary tumour that can affect the entire aero-digestive tract, making lifelong follow-up necessary.

As this appears to be the first study of its kind, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes more needs to be done in order to validate this promising breakthrough in the battle against oral cancer.

Dr Carter said: ‘The discovery of an effective screening method for a cancer which kills one person every five hours in the UK using a relatively simple method represents excellent progress.

‘However, the Foundation urges greater investigation into the feasibility of using such a device on a larger scale.’


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