Trial Underway to Assess Breath Test for Early Cancer Diagnosis

Researchers in the United Kingdom launched a two-year clinical trial to develop a breath test that analyzes molecules that could indicate the presence of cancer at an early stage.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is running the PAN Cancer trial for Early Detection of Cancer in Breath in collaboration with Owlstone Medical to test their Breath Biopsy® technology.

The study will recruit up to 1,500 participants, including healthy people for a control group. Patients with stomach and esophageal cancers will initially be tested, and researchers plan to expand the cohort to include patients with prostate, kidney, bladder, liver, and pancreatic cancers. Patients will be recruited from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge who have been referred from their general physicians with these suspected cancers.

Participants will breathe into the device for 10 minutes to provide a sample to determine whether odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be detected. When cells carry out biochemical reactions as part of their metabolism they produce a range of VOCs. If their metabolism becomes altered, such as in cancer and other medical conditions, cells can release a different pattern of VOCs, and the researchers aim to identify any patterns.

“We urgently need to develop new tools, like this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier, giving patients the best chance of surviving their disease,” said Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead trial investigator at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, in a statement.

This is the first test of its kind to investigate multiple cancer types.

Nonadherence to cancer screening is associated with mortality unrelated to cancer.

Cost-effectiveness and benefit-to-harm ratio of risk-stratified screening for breast cancer.

Source: Cancer Research UK