In a world without a cure for cancer, early detection and prevention is the next best thing. Unfortunately, most methods for cancer detection are invasive, time-consuming, or both. As important as prevention is, not everyone has the time or money to queue up for a full CAT scan. An experimental device from the UK may provide a more expedient option, and when it comes to cancer, time is of the essence.
The Breath Biopsy is a new device developed by Owlstone Medical currently beginning experimental trials at Cancer Research UK. Many illnesses create distinctive smells and tastes on a person’s breath, and according to recent research, cancer might produce a smell of its own. To that end, the Breath Biopsy was developed to analyze a patient’s breathing for traces of cancerous molecules. To be specific, one of the molecules created and expelled by the body, volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), has its patterns altered by the presence of cancer. If the Breath Biopsy can detect these odd patterns, that’s a sign of cancer.
1,500 test subjects with varying forms of cancer are being recruited to this research, as well as healthy people to act as a control group. Subjects will breath into the device for 10 minutes to provide a sample, which will then be analyzed and compared to the control group. Clinical trials are set to last for at least two years.