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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.


Light-Based Therapy May Treat Thrombocytopenia

A low-intensity type of laser treatment may offer a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for thrombocytopenia — a potentially life-threatening shortage of the blood cells called platelets that are essential to blood clotting. In their paper appearing in Science Translational Medicine, a research team from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reports that low-level laser therapy increased the generation of platelets from precursor cells called megakaryocytes (MKs) and had the same effect in several mouse models of the condition. They also identified the probable mechanism underlying this effect.

“Our study reveals for the first time that low-level laser therapy enhances platelet production in animals with thrombocytopenia, but not in normal controls,” says Mei X. Wu, PhD, of the Wellman Center at MGH, the senior author of the study. “This result suggests that a safe, drug-free method that does not depend on donated blood products can be developed for treating or preventing thrombocytopenia.”

Among the conditions that can lead to thrombocytopenia are certain types of leukemia, an autoimmune disorder that attacks platelets, and side-effects of certain drugs, including some used for chemotherapy. The most established treatment is platelet transfusion, which since it risks complications including infection, allergic reaction and immunosuppression is limited to the most severe cases. Dosage levels of the FDA-approved drugs that increase platelet levels must be precisely controlled to avoid excessive platelet production that raises the risk of dangerous blood clots.