A Breath Test To Screen Oesophageal & Gastric Cancer


Scientists from Imperial College London have developed a way to screen for oesophageal & gastric cancer by taking a simple breath test. The test is non-invasive, very simple and it has 85% accuracy from the lab. The research was published in JAMA Oncology earlier.

Gastric and oesophageal cancers are mostly diagnosed at a late stage when curative treatment might not be possible. Currently doctors diagnose oesophageal and gastric cancers by carrying out an endoscopy. The procedure is invasive, with a probe being put inside of the body via the mouth and down the gullet. The probe carries with a light source and a video camera, so as to examine the inside of esophagus and stomach. As you can imagine, it’s not a pleasant experience. The procedure is quite costly as well. Therefore, only people with obvious symptoms are referred to the endoscopy.

There’s a real need of a less costly, convenient, non-invasive way to screen for gastric and oesophageal cancers, so as to improve in early diagnosis. 

The breath test, has a surprisingly simple procedure. Patients are asked to breathe into this device which looks like a small bag, the breath samples are taken to the laboratory and analyzed. The test looks for chemical compounds from the exhaled breath that are unique to patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer, the existence of such substance help doctors detect early signs of the disease.


Breath test breakthrough for early diagnosis of oesophageal and gastric cancer

Credit: Imperial College London

This research was carried out within a sample group of 335 patients, and proved 85% accuracy. Next step, scientists are undertaking further investigations to improve the test and will conduct a larger clinical trial.


* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.