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Breath checks are no longer just a common social courtesy. Doctors are now using exhaled breath checks to detect colorectal cancer.

A new study published in the British Journal of Surgery found that the exhaled breath of people with cancer contains unique patterns known as volatile organic compounds.

“The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development,” said study researcher Dr. Donato F. Altomare, M.D., of the University Aldo Moro of Bari. “Our study’s findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool.”

Researchers recruited 78 participants for the study; 37 with colorectal cancer and 41 without cancer. Each participant was asked to provide an exhaled breath sample in which doctors examined for volatile organic compounds.

Within the study results, doctors found 15 patterns of volatile organic compounds that were tied to cancer. By using this test, experts were able to identify people who had colorectal cancer with more than 75 percent of accuracy.

Researchers specifically identified 19 participants to have the disease from examining their breath samples.

A previous study used breath sampling to detect lung cancer. The study conducted by The Georgia Tech Institute discovered that there are 75 volatile organic compounds within exhaled breaths that can be used to help detect people with and without lung cancer. Metabolomx, a California start-up company is also using the method to detect lung cancer.

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