The team has developed a breath test that can monitor the exhaled air for head and neck cancer profiles and is highly effective at an early stage of testing. We have seen some promising breathing tests in recent years, many of them based on the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the exhaled air, where specific patterns can be observed when the body's metabolism is disturbed by disease. Attempts to detect and classify these respiratory biomarkers are becoming more and more effective, and we have recently heard of, for instance, successful tests for the detection of esophageal, stomach and lung cancer.
The authors of a new study, Flinders University, are focusing on head and neck cancers, which account for 6% of all cancers and kill around 300,000 people worldwide each year. Their treatment is very effective, provided that the diagnosis is quick, because the later stages of the disease do not have a good prognosis. - During our work, we identified a unique VOC profile in a group of Australian patients that can distinguish people suffering from head and neck cancer from healthy patients - explains one of the authors, Dr. Roger Yazbek.
The above-mentioned group of patients consisted of 181 people with suspected head and neck cancers who had not yet started treatment. An ionic flow mass spectrometer was used to analyze the exhaled air, from which the team was able to extract the required profiles. It quickly turned out that the method is highly effective at the level of 80%, and in the case of benign lesions even 86% - the effectiveness was obviously confirmed by patient biopsies.
- The key advantage of our work is the fact that we used an independent group to confirm the effectiveness of our test. Even if the number of patients in the study was relatively small, it gives us confidence and the ability to demonstrate usefulness when applying for clinical application, the authors explain. Now, the researchers, encouraged by the excellent results, are getting ready for much larger tests, where not only will there be more people, but they will also differ in age, origin, sex or stage of the cancer. If the test proves to be so highly effective, then its path to clinical use may be really short, especially since we are talking about a non-invasive top web guides - Our great vision is to create a handheld device that can be used in every clinic, so that doctors know immediately if the symptoms presented by the patient actually indicate neck or head cancer - they add.