Breath Test for Cancer

Maria Cohut has published an article, fact checked by Jasmin Collier, telling us about a new breath test for cancer that is currently under trial.  This clinical trial just launched is in hopes it can help to diagnose multiple forms of cancer.

The Cancer Research United Kingdom Cambridge Institute researchers have recently developed an innovative breath test, suggesting it will assist in the diagnosis of several types of cancer.  This is a noninvasive test, created with the support of Owlstone Medical.  It screens for the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that are signature molecules in a person’s breath that could help to identify cancer at any stage.

The breath approach could help to find the presence of cancer early on and allow people to access immediate treatment and enhance the probability of positive health outcomes.  This test is called Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy and is assessed in a clinical trial called the PAN Cancer Trial for Early Detection of Cancer in Breath.

Lead investigator Prof. Rebecca Fitzgerald says that they urgently need to develop new tools such as this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier.  This would give patients the best chance of surviving their disease.  They hope to find signatures in breath that are needed to detect cancers earlier through this clinical trial to develop this technology.  Owlstone is the first to test across multiple cancer types.

The cells release a range of VOCs, but if they undergo mutations, this will alter the kinds of molecules they produce.  Owlstone is aiming to detect the VOC changes that indicate the presence of different types of cancer.  Investigators are looking to collect samples from 1,500 participants to analyze.  Those potentially living with cancer and healthy controls are included.  They will work with those suspected cancer of the stomach and esophagus.  Samples will be collected later from people who may have prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, liver cancer or pancreatic cancer.

People at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are being recruited for this trial to be tested for one of these forms of cancer.  They will receive the innovative breath test first, then undergo traditional diagnostic methods to confirm the accuracy and effectiveness of Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy.  Alongside blood and urine tests, the breath based tests will increase the potential to aid in diagnosis in an effort to help doctors detect and treat disease.  The whole-body snapshot in a completely noninvasive way is powerful and could reduce harm by sparing patients from more invasive tests that are not needed.

Those who have registered for this trial have had no difficulty undergoing this new test.  Cancer Research UK investigators are very hopeful about this clinical trial and believe the new technology will improve diagnostic processes.  This could revolutionize the way cancer is diagnosed in the future.  Imagine the monetary benefits for patients from a test such as this that would eliminate more expensive testing.

Dr Fredda Branyon