Breath Test Helps Predict Lung Surgery Outcome

It measures function and quality of life for lung cancer patients

By HealthDay News HealthDay Reporter

Updated on June 15, 2022

WEDNESDAY, July 17, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A simple breath test may help doctors predict lung function and quality of life for lung cancer patients who have surgery.

That's the claim of a study that appears in the July issue of the journal CHEST.

The test is called diffusion capacity of the lung for carbon dioxide (DLCO). A person taking the test has to inhale a small quantity of carbon monoxide, hold his or her breath for 10 seconds, and then rapidly exhale. The exhaled gas is then measured to find out how much carbon monoxide the person absorbed.

"We found that the DLCO, which is a very safe and simple test, helps us to predict how a patient will fare after surgery and administer treatment accordingly," says a prepared statement from lead investigator Dr. John R. Handy Jr., of the Oregon Clinic in Portland.

The study included 139 people at three medical centers. Their health was measured before they had lung cancer resection surgery and six months after surgery. The measurements included a health survey and a quality-of-life index, along with DLCO and another test called forced expiratory air volume in one second (FEV1).

While a preoperative FEV1 test couldn't predict a lung cancer patient's quality of life after surgery, a preoperative DLCO could, the study says.

More information

For a complete understanding of this disease, visit the National Cancer Institute.

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