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article imageNew breath test can detect stomach and esophageal cancer

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 30, 2017 in Health
A new breath test has been developed to diagnose stomach and esophageal cancer. These cancers are difficult to detect resulting in relatively high mortality rates for sufferers. Unlike other tests for the two cancers, use of a breathalyzer is non-evasive.
Tests were conducted by British researchers on 335 patients in three London hospitals. These tests showed the breathalyzer was 85 per cent accurate in detecting both stomach and esophageal cancer. Of the 335 patients given the breath tests, 163 were found to have stomach or esophageal cancer while the remaining patients were found to be cancer-free. Confirmation the latter group was cancer-free was confirmed by doctors performing endoscopy tests.
Compared to other forms of cancer, both these cancers are extremely difficult to detect. Current testing often leads to ambiguous findings and the cancers are usually detected late. The five-year survival rate of persons diagnosed with stomach or esophageal cancer is 15 percent.
Worldwide, about 1.4 million new cases of these two types of cancers are detected each year.
The breathalyzer measures five different chemicals contained in the body. These chemicals have a different makeup when they come from cancerous cells than they do when they originate in healthy ones. The breath samples are then analyzed by using ion-flow tube mass spectrometry. Analysts can then determine those samples that contain a chemical signature that indicates cancer.
One of the researchers, Dr. Sheraz Markar, said currently the only way stomach and esophageal cancers can be detected is with endoscopy. This procedure involves putting a long flexible telescope down the patient’s throat and into the stomach. Marker described this procedure as unpleasant, invasive and expensive. It also carries the risk of the patient suffering complications.
Use of the breath tests will substantially decrease the endoscopies that must be performed. And use of a non-evasive breathalyzer will lead to earlier detection and treatment.
Researchers are planning to spend the next three years conducting more tests and the subjects will include people who have not been diagnosed with or suspected of having cancer. The team from Imperial College in London will also be working on developing new breath tests to detect other forms of cancer including colorectal and pancreatic cancer.
Results of the study were presented to the European Cancer Congress 2017 being held in Amsterdam.
More about breathalyzer, breath tests cancer, Stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, endoscopy
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