The new technology could be used to monitor people considered to be at high risk of stomach cancer.
Tumors of the stomach could soon be discovered using a banal breath test, scientists have said. It is a step that can potentially save lives by detecting the condition early.
A new trial of the tests, which evaluate and measure the level of compounds in people’s breath that can show cancer risk, have proved to be very accurate, but also cost-effective.
Stomach cancer is not a very common condition, affecting approximately 74,000 people in the United States every year. The curing rate of patients is extremely poor, because the disease is so rarely diagnosed early, so treatment is rarely successful.
Early symptoms, like burping and indigestion, are similar to those for many other less harmful conditions, so the cancer is rarely considered until it is too late. Today, the only existing test is an endoscopy, which can detect the tumors with the help of a tube which is inserted into the stomach down the throat.
The new test is not only accurate in detecting cancer. The procedure uses a technology dubbed nanoarray analysis, which could also detect which patients were at greatest risk of developing the disease, said the international team of researchers, that included scientists from Israel and Latvia.
According to their report, which published in the medical journal Gut, the new breather test was 92 per cent accurate at discovering the specific “breath-print” of patients that already had cancer. People whose stomach cells had been affected by changes that can cause cancer could also be detected with almost the same level of precision.
The scientists, from the University of Latvia and the Israel Institute of Technology, said the innovative technology had “potential” for stomach cancer screening tests, but also for monitoring of people believed to be at high risk.
The research was based on a sample of 484 people. From this pool, 99 had previously diagnosed stomach cancer. The study is one of the largest yet to confirm the value of breath test diagnosis. If the results are to be confirmed by another, ongoing trial involving thousands of patients from all Europe, then the tests could be implemented into clinics within the next few years.
Similar breath tests for other types of cancer, like lung cancer are also at trial stage in the United Kingdom.
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