Now, an "electronic nose" which can sniff out cancer with a simple breath test, say scientists.
A team at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology in Israel have developed the electronic nose which is so sophisticated a device that it can sniff out malignant head and neck cancer tumours which are often hard to diagnose.
According to them, it picks up on microscopic chemical changes that are emitted in the breath of people with the two cancers, compared to those without the disease.
The Nano Artificial Nose has been tested on a small sample group but there are hopes it could one day be used as a routine test on the cancers, the Daily Express reported.
Patients develop tumours of the head, neck, salivary glands and mucus membranes. These cancers are hard to spot early and are often not diagnosed until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
The nano nose was able to tell apart breath molecules from head and neck cancer patients and healthy people. It also distinguished between lung cancer patients and those free of the disease, and between head and neck cancer and lung cancer patients, say the scientists.