Gastric Cancer Detected in a Breath Test

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Marcis Leja, MD, MBA, PhD

If the results are validated in a wider patient population, this could be a very good and inexpensive tool that could be used for screening.

—Marcis Leja, MD, MBA, PhD

By detecting certain volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath, NanoArtificial Nose technology (NA-NOSE) was able to differentiate patients with gastric cancer from those with benign lesions, with high accuracy, in a poster that earned a merit award at Digestive Disease Week 2014, the largest gathering of gastroenterology specialists in the world.1

“The detection of volatile markers in human breath is an emerging field of research for screening, surveillance, and monitoring different diseases, including cancer,” said Marcis Leja, MD, MBA, PhD, of the University of Latvia in Riga. The study’s first author was Haitham Amal, a PhD candidate in the research group led by Hossam Haick, BSc, PhD, at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.

The NA-NOSE, which was designed and developed by Prof. Haick’s group, relies on electrical signals from sensors that correspond with more than 20 components in the breath. Dr. Leja reported the results of this novel sensor technology for both detecting gastric cancer and differentiating it from peptic ulcer disease and precancerous lesions in the stomach mucosa.

The study involved 99 gastric cancer patients, 53 with peptic ulcer disease and 342 controls, who underwent upper endoscopy. For differentiating cancer from noncancerous conditions, the sensitivity of the test was found to be 70%, the specificity, 98%, and accuracy, 92%.

“The device is really performing well,” Dr. Leja said in an interview. “If the results are validated in a wider patient population, this could be a very good and inexpensive tool that could be used for screening—even for the simultaneous detection of a number of different diseases from the same breath sample.… We are showing that we can discriminate high-risk premalignant lesions from low-risk ones.” ■

Disclosures: Dr. Leja has received compensation for speaking and teaching from AstraZeneca and Krka Pharmaceuticals.


1. Amal H, Leja M, Funka K, et al: Nanomaterial-based sensor technology can detect gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease with a high accuracy from an exhaled air sample. Digestive Disease Week 2014. Abstract Sa1896. Presented May 3, 2014.





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