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Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers in the world today, accounting for 18% of worldwide cancer related deaths. It has also, in all my years of studying and following breakthroughs in early detection, been the most stubborn in avoiding advances in clinical diagnosis.

Now, finally, some potentially great news. As with most other cancers, early detection of lung cancer is key to beating the disease with the least amount of damage. Currently only about 15% of lung cancer is caught in the earliest stages. Scientists in Israel may have turned that tide with a breathalyzer that can detect early stage cancer in more than 80% of cases.

The breathalyzer has been able to successfully test for VOC’s, volatile organics compounds that are present in lung cancer patients but not in people without lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a tough enough sell in life insurance underwriting in a best case scenario, so increasing the numbers that are detected early and treated successfully could be helpful in opening a few more doors. Currently lung cancer is one of the hardest, right up there with colon cancer, to get approvals on without a very long history of no recurrence.

Bottom line. The key with life insurance and cancer is early detection, low stage and grade, successful treatment and high survival rates for the particular cancer. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are two great examples where early detection gets better all the time and, combined with high survivability, leans toward more frequent and better life insurance approvals.