A novel technology senses small changes in the levels of particular compounds in exhaled breath, and accurately identifies changes that signal the development of gastric cancer, according to a study published online in Gut.

The new test uses nanotechnology that analyzes a set of atoms called nanoarrays. In this case, the array includes atoms from breath samples and the computer looks for the amount of specific compounds that are linked to gastric cancer. Nanoarray analysis is accurate, simple, and inexpensive, the researchers said.

Christine Metz, Ph.D., director of the laboratory of medicinal biochemistry at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y., and colleagues collected two breath samples from 484 people, 99 of whom had been diagnosed with gastric cancer but had not yet had chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

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The patients were asked about their smoking and drinking habits and tested for infection with Helicobacter pylori

he first breath sample was analyzed using a technique that measures the various organic compounds in exhaled breath. The second sample was analyzed using a nanoarray.

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The patterns identified using nanoarray technology accurately distinguished the different precancerous stages, identifying patients at low and high risk for developing gastric cancer, the researchers said.

The findings did not change when the researchers took into account age, alcohol use, and the use of proton pump inhibitors.


  1. Amal, Haitham, et al. “Detection of precancerous gastric lesions and gastric cancer through exhaled breath.” Gut. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-308536. [epub ahead of print]. April 13, 2015.