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Breath Test for Throat, Stomach Cancer Developed

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(Marco Verch, Flickr)

24 May 2018. A new method for diagnosing cancer of the throat and stomach, two regions considered difficult to detect in cancer patients, analyzes the breath of patients for characteristic biomarkers of the disease. The new test is reported yesterday on the web site Public Health Forum.

The test developed by George Hanna and colleagues at Imperial College London in the U.K. aims to provide a safer and easier way to detect throat and stomach cancer. Most current techniques call for an endoscope, a flexible tube inserted in the esophagus to the stomach to observe the state of tissue in real time. Because of this invasive procedure, many throat and stomach cancers are not detected until in their later stages, when the prognosis is poor and survival times shorter.

A non-invasive test, like Hanna’s, could make it possible to detect cancer in these regions sooner, making it possible to catch the disease in an earlier stage, when more treatment options are available. As reported in Public Health Forum, the test analyzes volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the exhaled breath of patients. Analysis of exhaled VOCs indicates the prsence of residues from proteins or other biomarkers associated with tumors in the throat or stomach.

A positive test result could then be followed up with a conventional endoscope exam, but negative results would enable the patient to avoid this invasive procedure. According to Pulic Health Forum, trials of the breath analysis method show correctly diagnoses 85 percent of patient throat and stomach cancers.

Hanna’s breath test is not the only method of analyzing exhaled breath to detect cancer. As reported in Science & Enterprise, Owlstone Medical Ltd. in Cambridge, U.K. developed a test that detects lung cancer with exhaled breath. In March, the company raised £11 million ($US 15 million) in its latest venture founding round.

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