Source: washingtonnewsday.com
Author: Jonathan Edwards

By analyzing a breath sample, it seems possible to successfully identify different types of cancer, according to the results of the new study involving researchers from Flinders University. The study was published in the English language journal British Journal of Cancer.

Researchers have now made significant progress in developing a breath analysis to detect cancer. The new method has made it possible to effectively identify cancer of the head and neck.

Six percent of all cancers worldwide are head and neck cancers, which kill more than 300,000 people every year. Tobacco, alcohol and poor oral hygiene are known major risk factors for this form of cancer. The increase in head and neck cancer is associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) and also affects younger population groups, the research team continued.

Current therapies are effective in treating early-stage disease, but such diseases are often detected in the late stages and are often associated with a poorer prognosis and high morbidity. It is therefore important to identify dangerous diseases such as head and neck cancer as quickly as possible.

Cancers of the neck and head are widespread

The global effort to use a person’s breath analysis for fast, inexpensive and accurate testing for cancer and other early-stage diseases could take a big step forward with the new method.

For the study, breath samples were taken from 181 people suspected of having early head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. By examining exhalation profiles, the newly developed method made it possible to differentiate precisely between people with head and neck cancer and non-cancer patients, the researchers report.

“We were trying to determine the diagnostic accuracy of breath analysis as a non-invasive test for detecting head and neck cancer, which over time may lead to a simple method to improve treatment outcomes and patient morbidity,” the experts explain in a press release from Flinders University.

Detect cancer through a breath test?

In the future, the researchers hope to test the new method in primary care facilities such as family doctor’s offices in order to effectively develop the test for early detection. (as)

The new breath test has an average sensitivity and specificity of 85 percent when it comes to differentiating between people with cancer and people in the control group with a benign disease. The diagnosis was then verified by analyzing tissue biopsies, the team explained.

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