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breath test could save lives by diagnosing deadly cancers early

Deadly Cancers Diagnosed Earlier With Breath Test Could Save Lives


A simple breath test could save lives by diagnosing deadly cancers early.

British research shows the breathalyzer is 85 per cent accurate at identifying stomach and esophageal cancers, which between them affect 16,000 men and women a year. Both types of cancer are often diagnosed late, leading to poor survival rates. Scientists hope the new breath test will ultimately lead to cancers being spotted earlier, resulting in more effective treatment and saved lives.It is also expected to help doctors avoid unnecessary endoscopy examinations – unpleasant diagnostic procedures that require a flexible telescope to be inserted down the throat and into the stomach. 

The procedure is expensive and can be uncomfortable. Once diagnosed, around 85 per cent of sufferers die within five years. By the time symptoms appear, the disease is often in later stages.But scientists believe the new tests, which measures five different chemicals in each breath, could make it simpler to screen patients earlier. The chemicals give vital clues on whether someone has cancer or a less serious gastric condition. 

Dr Sheraz Markar, one of the trial researchers from Imperial College London, said: “At present the only way to diagnose esophageal cancer or stomach cancer is with endoscopy. This method is expensive, invasive and has some risk of complications.”A breath test could be used as a , first-line test to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopes. In the longer term this could also mean earlier diagnosis and treatment, and better survival.”

Each year in the UK around 6,682 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer and 4,576 die from the disease.There are 8,919 cases of esophageal cancer, affecting the food pipe or gullet, with 7,790 deaths.For the new study breath samples were collected from 335 patients at three London hospitals. Of these, 163 had been diagnosed with esophageal or stomach cancer while 172 were shown to be cancer-free after undergoing endoscopy tests.


Breathalyser can detect 17 diseases

As far back as 400 BC, Hippocrates advised his students to smell their patients’ breath to detect if they were ill.Now, researchers in America have invented a system which does just that, only rather more scientifically.  A new analyzer uses nano-rays to determine the precise chemical composition of a person’s breath.From that it is able to detect the “signature” of any of 17 serious diseases, from kidney cancer to Parkinson’s disease.Exhaled breath contains nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen, as well as small amounts of more than 100 other chemicals, but the relative amount of each substance varies depending on a person’s state of health.Writing in the journal ACS Nano, scientists describe how they analysed the results with artificial intelligence techniques to classify and diagnose the conditions.They found that each disease produces a unique volatile chemical breath print, based on differing amounts of 13 components.They also showed that the presence of one disease would not prevent the detection of others.The technology allows for an inexpensive and portable breathalyzer-style device, which costs as little as £24 and is able to screen for various diseases in a non-invasive way.Lead author Professor Hossam Haick, said: “We found that just as we each have a unique fingerprint, each of the diseases we studied has an unique breath print, a ‘signature’ of chemical components.”We have a device which can discriminate between them, which is elegant and affordable.”In recent years, scientists have developed experimental breath analyzers, but most of these instruments focus on a single type of disease, such as cancer.