It’s exactly a month ago that I wrote What Should I Know About Colon Cancer?
Although your lifetime risk of coming down with it is around five percent, the mortality rates are approximately 50 percent.
Now comes news that Italian doctors have developed a simple breath analysis tool that has the potential for the screening and diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
Alexandra Sifferlin wrote in Time Magazine that in a small study of 80 participants, “researchers from the the University Aldo Moro of Bari in Italy found a profile of breath-based chemicals that are linked to colorectal cancer. The scientists collected exhaled breath from 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy control participants, and evaluated them for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that could be red flags for cancer. According to the researchers, cancer tissues operate differently compared to non-cancerous cells and may release a distinct chemical signature.”
The good news for us regular folks is that this simple low cost technique could provide an alternative to colonoscopies that deter many people.
“The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Donato F. Altomare in a statement. “Our study’s findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool,” Time reported.
The American Cancer Society’s Dr. Ted Gansler told CNN. “The main goals of current screening tests are not just to find any colorectal cancer, but rather to find early–curable–cancers and precancerous polyps that can be removed to prevent cancer from developing.” According to Gansler, about only half of Americans ages 50 and older are currently getting tested for colon cancer.”
Although these are early times, if these tests work out many more people may get diagnosed early. Colon cancer is a slow growing disease, so early diagnosis saves lives.