The death rate for colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years, thanks in part to improved screening methods, according to the American Cancer Society. Yet it is still the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women combined in the United States.
Colonoscopy screenings can prevent about two-thirds of colorectal cancers from developing by detecting precancerous polyps, said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for ACS. The ACS recommends men and women over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy once every 10 years or a yearly fecal blood test.
“Unfortunately, only about half of people age 50 and older in the U.S. are up-to-date on their testing for colorectal cancer,” Gansler said.
Dr. Donato Altomare and his colleagues hope to change that. The researchers have completed a small clinical trial on a breath test that screens for colorectal cancer using volatile organic compounds. The results of their study were published this week in the British Journal of Surgery.
Altomare believes patients would be more willing to take a screening breath test over a colonoscopy because the breath test would be quicker, less expensive and non-invasive.
Researchers tested 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 patients who had a clean colonoscopy. Patients who were receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation were excluded, as were patients with other colon issues like inflammatory bowel disease. Nineteen of the cancer patients had stage I or II cancer; 18 had stage III or IV.
Study participants remained in a room for 10 minutes to create equilibrium between their breath and the surrounding air. Their exhaled breath was then collected in a bag and processed to determine each individual’s volatile organic compound, or VOC.
Using VOCs to diagnose cancer is a new frontier in cancer screening, according to the researchers. Scientists say tumor growth causes metabolic changes that lead to specific compounds that can be detected in exhaled breath. Ongoing studies are assessing the ability of a breath test to diagnose lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer and liver cancer.
No differences were found in the VOC profiles of patients in different stages of the cancer. The breath test analysis correctly identified 32 of the 37 patients with colorectal cancer and incorrectly diagnosed cancer in seven of the 41 healthy patients. Overall, the breath test had an accuracy rate of 76% in identifying patients with cancer.
The researchers concluded breath VOC analysis appears to have potential for detecting colorectal cancers, but further technical development is needed to improve the device’s accuracy. Altomare said larger studies also need to be done to confirm the test’s reliability.
“This is an interesting study, but a lot more research is needed before chemical analysis of exhaled breath might be added to the list of tests currently recommended for colorectal cancer screening,” Gansler said.
Altomare and his team plan to use the breath analysis on patients with precancerous polyps to see if the test can detect them.
“The main goals of current screening tests are not just to find any colorectal cancer, but rather to find early – curable - cancers and precancerous polyps that can be removed to prevent cancer from developing,” Gansler explained.
Altomare also plans to study whether the test works on people who have other colon issues – i.e., whether it can distinguish between cancer and inflammatory diseases. He is working with a professor in the chemical department at the University of Bari in Italy to create an electronic nose, “which we hope will further make the colorectal cancer screening by breath analysis more easy and available as a screening tool for the general population.”
In the meantime, Gansler urges people to take advantage of screening methods that are already available and have been proven to be effective in saving lives.
Man, your breath smells like crap. Must be colorectal cancer.
Da doon doon, tsssss
It makes sense that the chemicals would be present. Most people have their heads up their rectums.
So these guys are going to create a cancer screening machine, sell it for a pant load and hospitals are going to charge you a bazillion peso's to use it...................... when a properly trained dog can already do it.
Of course. Like patentable new medicines (expensive) vs compounds that have medicinal properties that have been around forever (non-patentable and cheap)
This is why weed, psilocybin, and and many nonintoxicating alkaloids are not legal for use in Western medicine. Too freakin' cheap and big pharma want to be paid... and paid well!
Maybe that's why dogs can be trained to detect cancer in some people . The dog smells the cancer compounds in the breath of the person it is examing
What if we ate through our butts and pooped out our mouths?
It would make me afraid to kiss, let alone have sex. And everyone's breath would stink.
I wish CNN would stop trying to be so cheeky all the time.
There are some who will miss the "invasive" nature of the currently accepted procedure...
This gives a whole new meaning to "Scope" !
Gives new meaning to the phrase, "Your breath smells like ass."
So if you talk too much smack you can be mistaken for this.. due to the breath??
I hear a dog is 100% accurate.
Is it the actual person's breath or the breath of the person that has been kissing butt?
Laugh all you want but I'm telling you, before we found out my wife had liver/kidney cancer, her breath smell changed. Never before had I ever found her breath objectionable, but I did then. By the time she was checked out it was too late.
Wouldn't it make better sense to collect their farts?
I was thinking the same thing – and maybe there would be less interference from other things, like tobacco, gum, food, drinks....closer to the source (i.e., colon mass) anyway.
you'd think wouldn't ya, LMAO
This makes the old Cliche "Your breathe smells like Sheet" come true... LoL
In 48 years, you'll need to get checked too. Does mommy know you're online?
I am up on my tests, but the breath test sounds much better than a colonoscopy!
Your colonoscopy wasn't too bad. Once I got past that fiesty gerbil, it was smooth sailing!
May as well turn the comments off now.......
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"Altomare believes patients would be more willing to take a screening breath test over a colonoscopy because the breath test would be quicker, less expensive and non-invasive." you think?
For people who are dying of cancer, I'm sure all of your jokes and levity are very uplifting. After all cancer patients go through, the fear, the pain, the humiliation, and loss of their lives or that of their loved ones, is it asking too much that you pass them off as cheap jokes and make fun of them? Remember, what goes around, comes around.
If life and death can't be funny, well.........then you might as well be dead!!!!!! Hahahahahahhaha
Are they SURE they were smelling the guy's mouths?
I'm a 52 year old woman who has been running for 7 years. After 2 years of pritiascrnatong, I had my first colonoscopy screening a few months ago. The worst part of the process was when I added too much Crystal Light lemon/lime flavoring to the solution I needed to drink!I was very nervous about my screening, but it went off without a hitch, and came back negative.My advice: don't wait. And lay off the Crystal Light flavoring!
It works 100% of the time on someone that votes for the GOP.
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