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Breath test to detect cancer

A clinical trial has been launched to see if a breath test could detect the presence of cancer.

Researchers are hoping to find out if signals of different cancer types can be picked up in patterns of breath molecules.

The Cancer Research UK team will collect breath samples from 1,500 people, some with cancer.

It is the first trial to look at whether this technology can pick up a range of cancers.

“Intuitively, lung cancer seems the most obvious cancer to be detected in the breath,” said lead researcher Rebecca Fitzgerald.

“But because of the way metabolites are recycled in the body, many other volatile molecules from other areas of the body end up in the breath too.”

They want to find patterns, or “signatures”, in the breath molecules from people who are either healthy or who have suspected oesophageal, stomach, prostate, kidney, bladder, liver or pancreatic cancer.

She added: “This is a pilot, so first we’re looking at a range of cancers to see if we get a signal and compare the signal to healthy individuals.”

 

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