Breath tests could potentially be used to help diagnose colorectal cancer, a new study has discovered. The work was led by Donato F Altomare, managing director of the Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation at the University Aldo Moro of Bari, and published in the British Journal of Surgery as part of the Improving Outcomes in Gastrointestinal Cancer supplement.
Experts collected exhaled breath from 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy controls which were processed offline to evaluate volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs of interest were located and selected, with patterns discriminating patients from controls set up.
To identify trends that discriminated most effectively between the two groups, a probabilistic neural network (PNN) was used, with findings indicating that those with colorectal cancer have a different selective VOC pattern in comparison with healthy controls.
This is based on an assessment of 15 of 58 specific compounds in breath samples.
The PNN in the research was able to discriminate patients with colorectal cancer with an accuracy rate of more than 75 per cent, as the model correctly assigned a total of 19 patients.
Mr Altomare explained: “The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development. Our study’s findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool.”
A separate study by the University of Adelaide also investigated possible treatments for colorectal cancer, discovering that an extract of mistletoe grown on ash trees can be highly effective against colon-cancer cells.
Source: Labmate Online