New Breath Test for Cancer May Lead to Earlier Mesothelioma Diagnosis

A new technology that allows cancer to be diagnosed through the use of a simple breath test has those at risk for mesothelioma and other cancers expressing optimism for simpler and less invasive testing and faster treatment. Now going through clinical trials at the Cancer Research United Kingdom Cambridge Institute, the innovative test is being used to diagnoses a variety of types of cancers, and may eventually include testing for malignant mesothelioma.

Screening Tool Tests for Signature Molecules

Though the cancer screening tool is not currently being tested on patients at risk for malignant mesothelioma, the screening methodology that it relies on could definitely be expanded to include the asbestos-related disease. According to the test’s creators, it screens for the presence of signature molecules known as volatile organic compounds that are present in all cells, but which become distinctive in the presence of different types of cancers at different stages. Having the ability to positively diagnose both mesothelioma and its stage through a simple breath test would allow for treatment to begin much more quickly, delivering a better survival time.

Creators Recognize Urgency of Developing Non-Invasive Diagnostics

Speaking of the promise of Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy technology for mesothelioma patients and other cancer patients, lead investigator Prof. Rebecca Fitzgerald said, “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. Through this clinical trial we hope to find signatures in breath needed to detect cancers earlier — it’s the crucial next step in developing this technology.”

Clinical Testing is Ongoing

The next step in the tool’s development is the collection and analysis of breath samples from hundreds of participants who are both healthy and presumed to be at risk for cancer or already diagnosed for cancer. Participants will undergo both the breath test and traditional testing to confirm both accuracy and effectiveness. Patients who have already submitted to the test have described it as simple, offering no discomfort, and even interesting. Importantly they compared it favorably to traditional testing methods which are often more invasive, including endoscopy.

Though the technology is not yet available for mesothelioma patients, it is a hopeful sign that it has entered clinical testing in the United Kingdom. For information on other innovations that may make your life easier, contact the Patient Advocates at today at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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