Breath Test Research Could be a Breakthrough for Early Detection of Esophageal Cancer

Channel 4 News in London, England, shared a story of a revolutionary test which is currently underway at Imperial College London which could improve early detection of esophageal cancer.

The test is simple: a patient blows into a plastic bag which is then analyzed to see if the patient has esophageal cancer.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation funded research in 2018 for the same breath test for esophageal cancer in the United States. The funding was awarded to Dr. Donald Low, a researcher from Virginia Mason in Seattle, WA. Dr. Low is colleagues with Dr. George Hanna and Dr. Piers Bosher of Imperial College in London.

Dr. Donald Low, Virginia Mason

The research for a breath test to detect esophageal cancer intends to establish a non-invasive test for the detection of esophageal cancer that is based upon the unique signature of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within exhaled breath and to analyze exhaled VOCs in response to therapeutic intervention in patients.

With over a 733% increase in the past four decades, esophageal cancer is among the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the United States and the western world.  Current guidelines recommend referral for endoscopy “only in the setting of ‘red flag’ symptoms that are frequently associated with inoperable disease,” Dr. Low stated.

These ‘red flag’ symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, and GERD, typically appear once the cancer has become advanced.  This, in addition with other factors, leads to the current overall five-year survival rate of only 20.6%. Despite its rapid increase and poor prognosis, esophageal cancer receives very little awareness and research funding. To make matters worse, there are no current standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in its earlier stages.

A news segment from the United Kingdom explains how this research could be a breakthrough for early detection of esophageal cancer and for other hard to detect cancers as well. To watch the video, visit:

For more information about Dr. Low and The Salgi Foundation, click here.

To make a tax-deductible donation to The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, please visit:


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