Now a simple breath test can detect and identify stomach cancer in a jiffy

Stomach cancer begins when cancer cells start forming in the inner lining of the stomach. The cells then grow to form into a tumor also. Though the scientists do not know what triggers the initiation of cancer cells in the stomach, but what is known to them is that there are certain things that increase the risk of cancer in your stomach. Things like H.Pylori bacteria that cause ulcers and inflammation in stomach can cause gastritis and growths in stomach known as polyps and these are all known triggers of stomach cancer.

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But now a bunch of scientists are very close to developing a method by which stomach cancer can be detected in just a breath.

1 The research

The research published in the medical journal GUT has claimed that a simple breath test might be enough for detecting stomach and gut cancer in people.

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The breath test was developed by the scientists from the Imperial college of London and the lead author George Hanna says, “Our breath test could address these problems because it can help diagnose patients with early non-specific symptoms as well as reduce the number of invasive endoscopies carried out on patients, which often lead to negative results.”

Usually doctors perform an endoscopy in order to detect stomach or intestinal cancer. The body of the patient is probed by a light source and the video camera at the end of the mouth and down the stomach. But since the procedure is invasive and has a very low rate of diagnosis, it is rarely referred to by the doctors.

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The research

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2 People involved in the research

The British doctors developed the breath test on basis of a research conducted by Professor Hossam Haick, director of Chemical Engineering and Russell Berrie of Nanotechnology Institute, Haifa, Israel.

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The study involved 484 individuals who gave a breath test at 12 hours intervals, during which they had to abstain from smoking for 3 hours. About 100 participants were diagnosed with gastric cancer but were not treated by chemotherapy or radiation.

The participants were required to reveal their drinking and smoking habits and were also tested for H.Pylori infection, a known cause for stomach infection.

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People involved in the research

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3 What is the technique known as?

The technique by which the researchers analyzed the breaths is known as GCMS or Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. The test measures many instable organic compounds in the breath of the individual.

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Then another breath was analyzed using Nano array technique along with pattern recognition. The GCMS recognized 130 unstable organic compounds in the exhaled breaths of individuals of the participants. It also found the intensity of 8 organic compounds which differed in participants who suffered from stomach cancer as compared to people who were at the risk of cancer.

The Nano array analysis very accurately differentiated between precancerous phases, marking patients with higher to lower risk of stomach cancer.

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What is the technique known as?

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4 A much better option!

Professor Haick said that this breath test coupled with Nano array analysis will help in accurately identifying people with high or low risk of getting stomach or gut cancer. It will also avoid unnecessary endoscopies in order to detect stomach cancer.

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The doctors will be able to check the progress of their patients with the help of a simple breath test at regular intervals. Also, the doctors will be able to detect early signs of cancer in patients since cancers produce a very distinctive odor of volatile organic compounds and chemicals. Professor Haick and his team are already working on making the breath test device more and more accurate at detecting cancers, so that it can be implemented globally and help detect stomach cancer early.

A much better option!

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