A Non-Invasive Breath Test Can Help to Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

A new technique has been developed to help test for colorectal cancer and other advanced adenomas. The non-invasive breath test is used to measure volatile organic compounds exhaled by a patient.

In a multicenter study:

The researchers tested adult patients scheduled for a colonoscopy. They used Aeonose devices to conduct breath tests. Some patients were excluded due to incomplete colitis, colonoscopy, or inadequate breath tests. Two-thirds of the breath tests were randomly assigned to develop training models that would be used to predict the diagnosis of the rest of the patients.

The remaining results were grouped according to advanced lesions found after colonoscopy, i.e. (n=70), non-advanced adenoma (n=117), advanced adenoma (n=117), normal colonoscopy (n=125) and hyperplastic polyp (n=115).

The training models for colorectal cancer had an area of 0.76, while that of advanced adenomas was found to be under the curve of 0.71. The blind validation resulted in AUCs of 0.74 for colorectal cancer and 0.61 for advanced adenomas. In the final model for colorectal cancer, the AUC was 0.84 with 95% sensitivity and 64% specificity, while that of advanced adenoma had an AUC of 0.73 with 79% sensitivity and 59% specificity.

According to these results, the volatile organic technique is showing promise in colorectal cancer diagnosis. While the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been identified in several studies, more studies are needed to help gather more data on those VOCs associated with colorectal polyps and validate the results externally.

Future studies are underway to help standardize all the phases of volatile organic compounds analysis. Several gas analysis techniques will be used to find a translatable approach to VOC research. The studies will evaluate how covariates influence VOC profiles like medication use, co-morbidities, and lifestyle factors. Scientists will also be able to explore the potential of VOC analysis on colorectal cancer diagnosis with external validation.

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