Cancer research: New breath test for non-invasive cancer diagnosis

Doctors are developing a novel breath diagnosis tool for cancer detection
The diagnosis of cancer is usually related to extensive investigations. However, researchers have now developed a simple breath test that can help to reliably detect two different types of cancer. This could enable effective early detection and treatment of cancer.

Scientists at Imperial College, London, found that a simple breath test can help identify two different types of cancer early and easily. The doctors published the results of their study at the "European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam".

Breath tests examine the acidity in humans
The experts took hundreds of breath samples from participating patients for their investigation. These samples were then checked for acids, which are found in our body and have been associated with various types of cancer, the doctors say. With this study, the experts hope to identify gastric and esophageal cancer more easily and early.

Gastric and esophageal cancer are usually diagnosed too late
The initial results were extremely promising. The doctors now hope that such a breath test will enable early detection of cancer. Both gastric and esophageal cancer are usually diagnosed very late. This leads to poorer survival rates than other forms of cancer that can be identified more quickly, the scientists explain.

Non-invasive diagnostic methods are urgently needed
Gastric and esophageal cancer are usually difficult to treat. From here, non-invasive diagnostic methods are urgently needed to determine the diseases at an earlier stage, the authors say. This increases the likelihood that the subsequent treatment will be successful.

More research is needed
The use of breath tests is a fascinating possibility and further research is now needed to determine whether this technique can detect various forms of cancer in its earliest stages, the researchers explain. It should also be noted that the use of such breath tests does not result in any potential harm to patients which are examined unnecessarily.

Breath test could avoid many unnecessary endoscopic exams
The breath test could prevent doctors from having to perform uncomfortable endoscopic examinations on patients. Currently, the only way to diagnose esophageal or gastric cancer is endoscopy, says author Dr. Sheraz Markar. However, this method is expensive, invasive and has a certain risk of complications. A breath test could be used as a non-invasive initial test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopic exams. In the longer term, this could also mean an earlier diagnosis and better survival among those affected, the doctors explain.

Researchers examine breath samples from 335 subjects
Breath samples from 335 patients were collected at three London hospitals for the new study. Of these subjects, 163 were diagnosed with esophageal or gastric cancer. Endoscopy tests found 172 participants had no cancer.

Breath tests for various other cancers in development
The new breath test works reliably. It enables cancer patients to be recognized early. A misdiagnosis seems unlikely, the authors say. The scientists are planning a larger follow-up examination over the next three years. The team is also working on breath tests for other types of cancer, such as colon and pancreatic cancer. (as)

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