Breath Analysis: A Low-Cost Cancer Screening Tool

Scientists seeking a non-invasive, low-cost, screening tool for colorectal cancer have discovered that breath analysis tests offer the potential of an accurate way to identify cancer tissue in colorectal cancer patients.

The small Italian study tested the accuracy when 37 breath samples were collected from colorectal cancer patients as well as a control group of 41 healthy participants. In patients with colorectal cancer, the breath samples identified pattern of volatile organic compounds (or cancer tissues) with 76-percent accuracy. This differentiated the cancer patients from the healthy control group participants.

“The present findings support the value of breath testing as a screening tool,” Dr. Donato Altomare, Co-Author of the study and doctor at the Department of Emergency & Organ Transplantation at the University Aldo Moro, in Bari, Italy.

Even though Dr. Altomare noted that the study misclassified five out of 37 patients and seven of 41 controls, researchers hope to further their investigation of breath analysis as a cancer screening tool by increasing the number of subjects in a follow-up study.

Breath analysis is already used as an effective way to diagnose benign gastrointestinal disorders—like lactose intolerance.