Navigation Links
Is a Breath Test for Colon Cancer Possible?

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- If colon cancer screening was as easy as taking a breath, more people might do it. Now, a small pilot study suggests such a test could be developed.

The study, of 78 people with and without colon cancer, found that those with the disease tended to have a distinct pattern of chemicals in their breath. And when researchers analyzed the study participants' breath samples, they correctly identified the colon cancer patients 76 percent of the time.

The findings, reported online Dec. 5 in the British Journal of Surgery, sound good. But if you're waiting for your doctor to offer such a test, don't hold your breath.

"It's an interesting concept, but this is in the very early stages," said Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate and colorectal cancers for the American Cancer Society.

"There's no way to tell if this would work in the general population," said Brooks, who was not involved in the research.

What's more, he added, there are already several good ways to catch colon cancer -- or, even better, precancerous growths called polyps, which can then be removed before a tumor develops. Yet about 40 percent of Americans who should be getting screened are not.

"Colon cancer is a highly preventable disease," Brooks said. "And I would encourage the four out of 10 people who are not taking advantage of the existing screening tools to talk with their doctor."

The idea of using a breath test to catch cancer is not new: Researchers are looking into breath tests for detecting a number of cancers, including lung and breast tumors. It's all based on studies showing that breath samples from cancer patients tend to have a distinguishing pattern of so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

When it comes to colon cancer, people already have several options for screening, which for most adults should begin at age 50 -- or possibly earlier if you are at higher-than-normal risk.

The choices include a yearly stool test that looks for hidden blood, or either of two invasive tests that scope the colon: sigmoidoscopy every five years, along with stool testing every three years; or colonoscopy every 10 years.

But many people are turned off by those tests.

So Dr. Donato Altomare and colleagues at the University Aldo Moro in Bari, Italy, decided to test the feasibility of a breath test.

Analyzing breath samples from 37 patients with colon cancer and 41 healthy middle-aged adults, the researchers found 15 VOCs that seemed to differ between the two groups.

They then used a statistical model to see if certain VOC patterns separated the colon cancer patients from the healthy participants. In the end, the researchers were able to correctly identify the cancer patients 76 percent of the time.

But, Brooks pointed out, that also means the breath test was wrong about one-quarter of the time.

There's no way of knowing how well such a screening test would work in the real world -- including how many people might wrongly get a positive result and undergo needless invasive tests to follow up, Brooks said.

Another big question, he added, is whether breath analysis could pinpoint people with colon polyps.

"One of our goals in screening is to detect polyps, not cancer," Brooks said. "This study doesn't address that."

Altomare's team acknowledges that there is a lot of work left to do. It's still unclear which breath chemicals should be measured, or what statistical method is best for weeding out cases of colon cancer.

Brooks said it would be nice to have a very simple, accurate screening test -- whether that means a breath test or blood or urine tests. Yearly stool tests are simple and cheap, but people often don't want to do them.

"We're always searching for simpler things to do," Brooks said. But for now, he added, "this study raises many more questions than answers."

More information

Learn more about colon cancer from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Durado Brooks, M.D., director, prostate and colorectal cancers, American Cancer Society; Dec. 5, 2012, British Journal of Surgery, online

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Breath test could possibly diagnose colorectal cancer
2. UCLA performs first breathing lung transplant in United States
3. Mechanism of breathing muscle paralysis in dreaming sleep identified
4. Help Kids Breathe Easier on Halloween
5. Study shows breath analysis could help diagnose pulmonary nodules
6. Breathable treatment to help prevent asthma attacks
7. A breath of fresh air: Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition launches
8. Summer Breathes Breath of Fresh Air to Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Program
9. Breathing Smog While Pregnant May Worsen Asthma in Offspring
10. Study examines treatments for relieving breathing difficulties among patients with lung effusions
11. Sleep disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Is a Breath Test for Colon Cancer Possible?
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the leading network for professional women, ... towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in New York City in June. The ... social audience of over 3 million. To watch the Mobilize Women video, click ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor ... that explains one of the most popular and least understood books in the Holy ... and puzzling descriptions that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Coveros, a leader in agile coaching services ... by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Enterprise Agile Transformation ... Agile methodologies in a consistent and high value manner across CMS programs. Coveros ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... “America On The Brink”: the Christian history of the United ... the creation of published author, William Nowers. Captain Nowers and his wife, Millie, ... spent thirty years in the Navy. Following his career as a naval aviator ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... now treating sleep apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many ... sleep disorder characterized by frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... Oct. 12, 2017 AVACEN Medical , Inc. ... with their  2017 New Product Innovation Award for Its ... primary and secondary medical device market research by Frost & ... first-to-market OTC, drug-free pain relief product, the AVACEN 100, offers ... treating fibromyalgia widespread pain. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  Caris Life Sciences ® ... fulfilling the promise of precision medicine, today announced that ... Caris, Precision Oncology Alliance™ (POA) as its 17 th ... the St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute will help develop ... use of tumor profiling, making cancer treatment more precise ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017   West Pharmaceutical ... innovative solutions for injectable drug administration, today shared the ... ID Adapter for improving the intradermal administration of polio ... Skin Vaccination Summit in May 2017 by Dr. ... Polio Department, World Health Organization (WHO), and recently published ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: