Breath test 'could diagnose colorectal cancer'

5 November 2012

A breath test could be used to diagnose colorectal cancer, new research has shown.

For the study, entitled Improving Outcomes in Gastrointestinal Cancer, researchers collected exhaled breath from 37 patients who had colorectal cancer as well as 41 healthy people.

Analysis of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) linked to cancer was carried out, according to the research which was published in BJS.

Scientists used a probabilistic neural network (PNN) which identified the pattern of VOCs that better discriminated between the two groups.

Patients with colorectal cancer were found to have a different selective VOC pattern when compared to healthy controls. This result was deduced based on 15 out of 58 specific compounds in the samples of exhaled breath.

The PNN in the study was able to detect patients with colorectal cancer with an accuracy of over 75 per cent.

Study leader Donato F Altomare commented: "The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development.

"Our study's findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool."

Posted by Philip Briggs

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