Researchers use breath test for colorectal cancer screening
Colon cancer could be diagnosed reliably in the future using a breath test. This made it possible to avoid the unpleasant and possibly painful colonoscopy that was previously necessary for diagnosis. In a recent study using a gas chromatography / mass spectrometry coupling, Italian researchers analyzed the breath samples of cancer patients and found certain volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can be used to diagnose colorectal cancer.
As the Italian research team led by Donato Altomare from the University of Aldo Moro in Bari (capital of the Apulia region) reports, the diagnosis of colorectal cancer with the help of the electronically evaluated breath test was quite successful. The correct diagnosis was made in 75 percent of the cases. "Breath VOC analysis appears to have potential for clinical use in colorectal cancer screening," the scientists write in the journal "British Journal of Surgery". However, a diagnostic accuracy of just over 75 percent is not yet sufficient to be able to make a reliable medical statement regarding possible colon cancer.
Breath test with 76 percent diagnostic accuracy As part of their study, the Italian researchers first analyzed the breath samples from 37 cancer patients and 41 healthy controls to identify VOC profiles that could indicate an existing colorectal cancer. The air exhaled by "patients with colorectal cancer and healthy controls was collected in a bag (Tedlar ®) and thermal Desober gas chromatography mass spectrometry" was used to determine the VOC profiles, the scientists report. After identifying the VOC typical of colorectal cancer in the first test phase, the researchers tested the new colorectal cancer diagnostic method on 25 cancer patients, with the breath test recognizing colorectal cancer in 19 cases. This corresponds to an accuracy of diagnosis of 76 percent, write Altomare and colleagues. Why the VOC in colon cancer patients differs significantly from healthy people remains to be seen. The underlying biochemical processes are still unclear.
Improve cancer screening through breath tests? The diagnostic technique already tested for other cancers (such as lung cancer) "the breath test is very simple and non-invasive," said Donato Altomare, explaining the benefits of the new procedure. "The availability of an effective and reliable colon cancer screening tool is of paramount importance in healthcare "According to the Italian researchers, colon cancer is the most common tumor in Europe after lung and breast cancer. According to the Robert Koch Institute, around 65,000 people fall ill each year in Germany. Simple, reliable early diagnosis would make the risk of a fatal course of disease clear However, the scientists admitted that a diagnosis accuracy of 76 percent was not yet sufficient and that further studies were necessary to improve the procedure. However, the more breath samples from colon cancer patients are analyzed, the more precisely the VOC profiles can be narrowed down, the typically e occur in those affected, which contributes to an improvement in the accuracy of the procedure, according to the conclusion of the Italian researchers. (fp)
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