In a recent study, researchers found that breath tests may be able to detect stomach and esophageal cancers.
British research shows that a breathalyser was 85% accurate at identifying both cancers in 300 patients, which affect around 16,000 men and women every year between them. Often, both of these cancers are detected late, which leads to a low survival rate.
This new “method” could help patients and doctors avoid going through endoscopy examinations, an invasive and expensive (not to mention uncomfortable) procedure in which a flexible tube be inserted down the throat and into the stomach.
These new tests, which measure five different chemicals in each breath a patient takes, could make it simpler to screen patients earlier and help them beat the cancer.
“At present the only way to diagnose oesophageal cancer or stomach cancer is with endoscopy. This method is expensive, invasive and has some risk of complications.” Says Dr. Sheraz Markar, one of the trial researchers from Imperial College London, “A breath test could be used as a non-invasive, first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies. In the longer term this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, and better survival.”
In the next 3 years, the team will continue their research into exploring using breath tests for other types of cancers as well.