Breath samples from 1,500 people, some with cancer, will be collected at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. The research team is trying to find out if specific pattern or odour can be identified in people’s breath, If cancer is present, a different pattern of molecules and a different signature smell will exist. The science behind the test itself is not new. There are some promising signs that breath tests could detect pre-cancerous symptoms, but it is not yet clear how accurate they are. On this way, it is possible that dogs could be also used to sniff out the odours given off by cancers, and other diseases like Parkinson’s.
A cancer breath test has huge potential to provide a non-invasive look into what’s happening in the body and could help to find cancer early. “We urgently need to develop new tools, like this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier, giving patients the best chance of surviving their disease,” Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead trial investigator at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, said. The hope is that breath tests could be used in GP practices to decide if patients need to be referred for more tests.We won’t know for several years whether or not the initial results are promising.