Breath test could possibly diagnose colorectal cancer

December 5, 2012

A new study published in BJS has demonstrated for the first time that a simple breath analysis could be used for colorectal cancer screening. The study is part of the "Improving Outcomes in Gastrointestinal Cancer" supplement.

has different metabolism compared to normal healthy cells and produces some substances which can be detected in the breath of these patients. Analysis of the (VOCs) linked to cancer is a new frontier in cancer screening.

Led by Donato F. Altomare, MD, of the Department of Emergency and at the University Aldo Moro of Bari, researchers collected exhaled breath from 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy controls which was processed offline to evaluate the VOC profile. VOCs of interest had been identified and selected, and VOC patterns able to discriminate patients from controls set up.

A probabilistic neural network (PNN) was used to identify the pattern of VOCs that better discriminated between the two groups.

Results showed that patients with colorectal cancer have a different selective VOC pattern compared with healthy controls, based on analysis of 15 of 58 specific compounds in exhaled breath samples.

The PNN in this study was able to discriminate patients with colorectal cancer with an accuracy of over 75%, with the model correctly assigning 19 patients.

"The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development," Altomare notes. "Our study's findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool."

Explore further: Sniffer dogs can be used to detect lung cancer

More information: Altomare et al. Exhaled Volatile Organic Compounds Identify Patients with Colorectal Cancer. BJS. DOI: 10.1002/bjs.8942 http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/bjs.8942

Related Stories

Trial seeks to sniff out lung cancer

June 19, 2012

Cancer smells different. Past research has shown that dogs can detect lung cancer in a person’s breath with great accuracy. But dogs are  tricky to use as a diagnostic tool; what does it mean when a dog barks once ...

Recommended for you

Researchers thwart cancer cells by triggering 'virus alert'

August 27, 2015

Working with human cancer cell lines and mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and elsewhere have found a way to trigger a type of immune system "virus alert" that may one day boost cancer patients' ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.