2013-03-13

Co.Exist

A Breathalyzer Test For Stomach Cancer

Sniffing out cancer’s chemical profile lets this device diagnose you with just the air that you’re breathing.

Cancer smells. In fact, dogs have proven both anecdotally and in research studies that they can sniff it out. Now, thanks to a stomach cancer breath test developed by researchers in China and Israel, humans can too.

A stomach-cancer-sniffing device made out of nanomaterials, described in the British Journal of Cancer, was tested on 130 patients with varying stomach issues. It was over 90% accurate in sussing out cancer (by sniffing its chemical profile), and 90% accurate in figuring out the staging of the cancers as well.

Today, stomach cancer is generally diagnosed via endoscopy, which can be uncomfortable and expensive. A breath test, on the other hand, is easy enough to administer that it could be done on a routine basis during regular check-ups. “The results of this latest study are promising--although large-scale trials will now be needed to confirm these findings,” explained Kate Law, the director of clinical research at Cancer Research U.K., in an interview with the Guardian.

The breath test is still in the early stages of development, and more research needs to be done before it’s commercially available. Next up: a larger clinical trial.

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