Breath Based Testing for Early Lung Cancer Testing to Continue in Trial Phase

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A study is being planned by Owlstone Medical to investigate the use of breath-testing technology to detect lung cancer early on. Around 3000 people will take part in the study, meaning it will be the largest ever of its kind. Patients will be recruited from across Europe to take part in this groundbreaking research.

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The Importance of Early Detection

Early detection is vital in order to improve the prognosis for lung cancer sufferers, as survival rates dramatically differ when the disease is detected later on. The survival rate for patients after five years is around 54% if the disease is detected at stage one, but this falls dramatically to 4% in those whose cancer goes undetected until it has reached stage four. The current procedures for testing are often flawed and can lead to false positive results in some patients, causing unnecessary stress and potentially invasive interventions.

How Breath-Based Testing Works

Cancer Research UK’s website explains that the way breath-based testing works in the identification of lung cancer is by using chemicals that are found in the breath. Samples taken from people with the disease, and those who don’t have it, are analysed and compared.

Dr Robert Rintoul is leading the research into breath-based testing to diagnose lung cancer, and he will seek to improve on the current testing methods. The aim is to reduce the occurrence of false positive results, which will lead to a reduction in complications from follow-on procedures, such as biopsies. Dr Rintoul’s study will compare PET and CT tests with the platform used by Owlstone Medical in an attempt to prove its value in identifying lung cancer in patients.

Clinical trials are carefully controlled to ensure accurate results, with specialist contract research organization firms, such as, often providing clinical experts to lend their skills to private pharmaceutical or technology companies.

The co-founder of Owlstone Medical, Bill Boyle, explained that the early detection of the disease will improve the outcome for patients and increase survival rates. With lung cancer being one of the most common cancers in the world, and survival rates demonstrating much room for improvement, any advances in the detection of this disease could have a dramatic effect on the quality of life of sufferers.