A New Breath Test Under Trial May Help Detect Multiple Cancers

A New Breath Test Under Trial May Help Detect Multiple Cancers

Researchers belonging to the Cancer Research United Kingdom Cambridge Institute have come up with an innovative way to diagnose cancer: a breath test.

They believe that this test can help in the diagnosis of different types of cancer.

This new test is non-invasive and works by screening for the presence of certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds refer to the signature molecules present in the human breath which can identify cancer at any stage.

Using this test can help establish an early diagnosis and allow people to get early treatment and receive good health outcomes.

This new breath test, currently known as the Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy, is under assessment in a trial known as PAN Cancer Trial for Early Detection of Cancer in Breath.

According to the lead researcher, it is the need of the hour to get new tools like breath test which may help in detection and diagnosis of cancer and give the patients a chance to survive the disease.

Through this trial, it is expected to find signatures in the breath needed for early cancer detection which is crucial for developing the technology.

Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy is first of its kind to help diagnose different types of cancer, potentially making its way as a universal test.

It Provides a Whole-body Snapshot

The authors have explained that the cells of your body, during the natural processes, tend to release a large number of VOCs. However, if they are affected by any mutation, these compounds may get altered.

Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy aims at detecting such changes as a consequence of different types of cancer.

Using a clinical trial, the investigators are trying to collect and investigate samples taken from over 1500 people. These include people who are completely healthy as well as those with cancer.

The researchers are set to work with people with cancers of the esophagus and stomach. Later on, they will move to those with cancers of the kidney, prostate gland, liver cancer, bladder cancer, or cancer of the pancreas.

For the current trial, the scientists are getting patients from Addenbrooke’s Hospital to test for one or more cancer types.

These participants will then undertake the breath test followed by other methods of diagnosis. This will allow the researchers to check the effectiveness and accuracy of the Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy.

This concept of using a breath test to provide a whole-body snapshot, that too without using any invasive procedure is extremely powerful. It is speculated to decrease the harm by allowing the patient to move away from invasive tests that they do not need.

A Revolutionizing Technology

The people who have registered for this trial so far did not face any difficulty in undertaking the test.

The investigators at the Cancer Research UK hope that this clinical trial may improve the current diagnostic procedures meant for cancers.

Technologies like this breath test carry the potential to revolutionize the steps of diagnosis and detection of cancers. It is what everyone needs and it is crucial that the scientists work more on it.


Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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