A new study published in the journal, Gut, has showed that a simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the study detected chemical compounds in people’s breath in an attempt to distinguish unique “breath prints” in those with risky pre-cancerous changes.

The researchers said if the study was proven in large trials it could spot patients on the brink of cancer so they could be treated early.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Journal reported that the prevalence of stomach cancer was between 1.64 and 4.1 per cent in Nigeria but in most western countries it was diagnosed late when the chance of survival was poor.

The new ‘nanoarray’ breath test builds on earlier work from researchers in Israel, Latvia and China as it relies on the idea that people with cancer may have unique breath signatures, containing minute chemical compounds that are not found in the breath of people free from the illness.

The researchers studied breath samples from 145 patients and around 30 of these were already known to have stomach cancer. The rest were referred for investigations because of concerning symptoms as they did not have full-blown cancer. Some others had worrying changes that doctors called “pre-cancerous” and could develop into malignancies.

Dr Emma Smith of the Cancer Research United Kingdom, said, “Diagnosing cancer in its early stages offers patients the best chance of successful treatment, so research like this has the potential to help save lives. We would need to be sure the test is sensitive and accurate enough to be used more widely.

“It was fairly good at distinguishing cancerous samples from non-cancerous ones. And it showed some promise at identifying worrying pre-cancerous changes that were at high risk of developing into the disease. It was not accurate in every case, some patients were misdiagnosed as being at high risk. More work is needed before it is ready to be used in clinics.” (Punch)

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