Cancer breath test trial launched in Cambridge

  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge is to lead a trial of a new breath test for the diagnosis of multiple cancer types.

The PAN Cancer trial for Early Detection of Cancer in Breath is being run in collaboration with Owlstone Medical to test Owlstone’s Breath Biopsy technology. This is the first trial to look at whether the technology identifies a range of cancers by detecting the presence of volatile organic compounds, which are attracting growing interest as a biomarker for cancer.

The trial, which is supported by Cancer Research UK, will collect breath samples from 1500 people who have been referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by their general practitioner with suspected cancer. Initially only patients with suspected oesophageal and gastric cancers will be recruited, but the trial will expand to include patients with suspected prostate, kidney, bladder, liver and pancreatic cancers in the coming months.

Lead trial investigator, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, said: “We urgently need to develop new tools, like this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier, giving patients the best chance of surviving their disease."

“Through this clinical trial we hope to find signatures in breath needed to detect cancers earlier. It's the crucial next step in developing this technology. Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy technology is the first to test across multiple cancer types, potentially paving the way for a universal breath test.”

For further information, please email Rachel de la Rue, research nurse, at

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