08/03/2011 04:30 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2011

Breathalyzer Helps Detect Breast Cancer, Researchers Say

Researchers at RNL Natural Co., a biotech company based in Seoul, Korea say they've found a way to detect breast cancer at 'stage 0,' the non-invasive forms of the disease such as DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). The technique utilizes a breathalyzer to trace breath VOCs or volatile organic compounds, a known predictor of breast cancer.

The study included 35 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 35 healthy women, and demonstrated distinct patterns for each group. Researchers say this breakthrough can help physicians with screening breast cancer patients at a very early stage and potentially save more lives.

"1 out of every 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and there has been a yearly increase of 15% of breast cancer found in women. With the breathalyzer, there is a pathway for breast cancer to be detected at the earliest stages and treatment can be started sooner," Dr. Ra of RNL who led the research said. In addition, "this method of screening is simple and painless. It is available to women who are concerned about the disease and can get tested sooner."

While white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer, African-American women are more likely to die from it. At least part of this seems to be because African-American women tend to have more aggressive tumors, though some studies have found that not getting proper follow-up care after an abnormal mammogram may also be a factor in the lower survival rates among African American women.

RNL's research on the breathalyzer test is slated to be published by the end of this year.