Scientists from an Israeli institute are developing a novel breath test that can detect early signs of breast, lung, bowel and prostate cancer. The team believes that further work could lead to a cheap, portable "electronic nose" that can help doctors diagnose disease early. "This study shows that an 'electronic nose' can distinguish between healthy and malignant breath, and can also differentiate between the breath of patients with different cancer types," quoted Professor Abraham Kuten, one of the researchers at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, as saying. "If we can confirm these initial results in large-scale studies, this new technology could become a simple tool for early diagnosis of cancer along with imaging. It could also be an easy way to assess and monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment and detect relapses earlier," Kuten added. During the study, scientists carried out tests on 177 volunteers including healthy participants and patients with different cancers aged between 20 and 75. The research saw people breathe into a mouthpiece to have a sample collected. "Pulses" of breath were then passed over sensors that can detect minute amounts of chemicals before computers analysed the data. The study appears in the British Journal of Cancer