Innovative gastric cancer-detection technology developed by the Technion can be used for the early detection of stomach cancer and for identifying persons at risk for developing the disease. The new detection method, based on breath analysis, has significant advantages over the existing detection technology: Gut reports that the new method is quick, simple, inexpensive and non-invasive.
Gastric cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer and in most cases, its diagnosis involves an endoscopy (the insertion of a tube into the esophagus, requiring that the patient fast and receive an intravenous sedative). Treatment is aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and the full or partial removal of the stomach. The disease develops in a series of well-defined steps, but there’s currently no effective, reliable, and non-invasive screening test for picking up these changes early on. Thus, many people succumb to stomach cancer only because it was not diagnosed in time.
The new technology, developed by Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion Faculty of Chemical Engineering, can be used to detect premalignant lesions at the earliest stage, when healthy cells start becoming cancerous.
The research, published in Gut as part of the doctoral thesis of Mr. Haitham Amal, was conducted in conjunction with a Latvian research group headed by Prof. Marcis Leja, based on the largest population sample ever in a trial of this type. 484 people participated in the trial, 99 of whom had already been diagnosed with stomach cancer. All the participants were tested for Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium known to increase the risk for stomach cancer, and two breath samples were taken from each person.
The first sample from each participant was analyzed using the GCMS technique, which measures volatile organic substances in exhaled breath. The researchers noted that GCMS technology cannot be used to detect stomach cancer because the testing is very expensive and requires lengthy processing times and considerable expertise to operate the equipment.
The second breath sample was tested using nanoarray analysis, the unique technology developed by Prof. Haick, combined with a pattern recognition algorithm.
- Based on the concentrations of 8 specific substances (out of 130) in the oral cavity, the new technology can distinguish between three groups: gastric cancer patients, persons who have precancerous stomach lesions, and healthy individuals.
- The new technology accurately distinguishes between the various pre-malignant stages.
- The new technology can be used to identify persons at risk for developing gastric cancer.
- The diagnosis is accurate, regardless of other factors such as age, sex, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and the use of anti-oxidant drugs.