Breath test used to detect cancer?

Is it possible to detect cancer from a breath test?  Researchers believe so. 

breath test image

Testing for cancer

In a study published this month in the British Journal of Surgery, researchers were able to successfully detect the presence of colorectal cancer with 75% accuracy through breath analysis.  Breath sampling is a relatively easy and non-invasive method of screening, but it is still very early in its development, according to lead author of the study Donato F. Altomare, M.D. 

At the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, United States, physicians have already developed a breathing test to diagnose lung cancer.  Dr. Peter Mazzone, M.D., pulmonologist and director of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, refers to it as a search for a “metabolic signature”, and hopes that breath testing will be utilized to recognize “the chemical compounds and combinations of many diseases.”   In one study conducted by Dr. Mazzone in 2011, the breath test used had up to an 89% accuracy rate, and it also discriminated among different types of cancer.

So, while testing continues, it is believed that breath testing will eventually be employed on a more comprehensive basis, offering an abundance of information about a patient’s overall health.

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