Scientists from Israel and China found the test was 90% accurate at detecting and distinguishing cancers from other stomach complaints in 130 patients. The British Journal of Cancer says the test could revolutionise and speed up the way this cancer is diagnosed.
About 7,000 UK people develop stomach cancer each year and most have an advanced stage of the disease. Two-fifths of patients survive for at least a year, but only a fifth are still alive after five years, despite treatment.
Currently doctors diagnose stomach cancer by taking a biopsy of the stomach lining using a probe and a flexible camera passed via mouth and down the gullet. The new test looks for chemical profiles in exhaled breath that are unique to patients with stomach cancer.
Cancer appears to give off a signature smell of volatile organic compounds that can be detected using the right technical medical kit - and perhaps even dogs. The science behind the test itself is not new - many researchers have been working on the possibility of breath tests for a number of cancers, including lung.