Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Technion's Flickr)

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Technion’s Flickr)

Scientists believe they can test whether people are likely to have stomach cancer by analysing their breath.

A study led by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology found a new type of technology called nanoarray, which senses tiny changes in the levels of particular compounds in exhaled breath, was able to accurately identify high-risk changes signifying the development of stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a relatively uncommon cancer that affects about 7,300 people each year in the UK.

Because the initial symptoms are often mistaken for other complaints and there is no effective early-stage screening test, it is usually diagnosed when it is too late to save lives.

Researchers suggest the technology could be used to check patients’ risk of stomach cancer, and if it is deemed high they could be tested with a conventional endoscopy.

A “major study” involving thousands of patients, including those with stomach cancer or pre-cancerous symptoms, is under way in Europe to test the technology’s suitability as a screening method.

The research, which is published online in the journal Gut, concluded that the “attractiveness of this test lies in its non-invasiveness, ease of use (therefore high compliance would be expected), rapid predictiveness, insensitivity to confounding factors and potentially low cost”.