Cancer Research UK and Owlstone Medical have launched a clinical trial for a breath test device designed to assist in early cancer diagnosis. The trial will involve 1,500 participants, some with cancer, and will take two years to release its results.
Owlstone Medical’s device measures volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath, a method by which it is hoped can be used to identify multiple tumour types in their early stages. This can be done as patterns in VOCs are altered by the presence of cancer and by various other conditions.
The trial itself will attempt to use the device to unpick cancer signals across prostate, kidney, bladder, liver, and pancreatic cancers. However the trial will start with patients with suspected oesophageal and stomach cancers.
The lead investigator for this trial at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, said:
“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
Furthermore, according to Cancer Research UK, this technology has the potential to drastically change the way we detect and diagnose cancers.
“Technologies such as this breath test have the potential to revolutionise the way we detect and diagnose cancer in the future. Early detection research has faced an historic lack of funding and industry interest, and this work is a shining example of Cancer Research UK’s commitment to reverse that trend and drive vital progress in shifting cancer diagnosis towards earlier stages.” – Dr David Crosby, head of early detection research at Cancer Research UK.