Esophageal-Gastric Cancer

Breath biomarkers could aid early detection, helping to improve long term survival

Esophageal-Gastric Cancer

Esophageal and stomach cancers are amongst the most commonly occurring cancers with 456,000 and 952,000 new cases respectively diagnosed globally in 2012 [1]. Early stage esophageal-gastric cancer is usually associated with non-specific symptoms. Identifiable symptoms often only occur once the disease is in an advanced state, with reduced prospects of long-term survival. Improving long-term survival by detecting the cancer earlier is challenging as existing detection techniques are invasive and expensive hampering their use on the vast number of patients who present with upper gastrointestinal symptoms of unclear origin.

To understand the breath composition of esophageal-gastric cancer patients Sung Tong-Chin et al[2] collected breath using the ReCIVA Breath Sampler. By taking advantage of the ReCIVA Breath Sampler’s ability to collect four technical replicates during a single breath collect, they were able to analyze breath using multiple mass spectrometry approaches, thus achieving detailed breath volatile organic compound (VOC) structural data. Figure 1 shows the relative intensity of VOCs, across a population of 21 patients with esophageal-gastric cancer. This provides a useful basis for designing and interpreting future studies aiming to find early stage breath disease biomarkers in the patient population.

Esophageal-Gastric Cancer Box Plot
Figure 1. Box and whisker plot of the relative intensity of VOC composition in exhaled breath of esophageal-gastric cancer patients analyzed by Thermal Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (TD-GC-MS).


[1] Ferlay, J. et al. GLOBOCAN 2012v1.1, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 (2014).

[2] Sung-Tong Chin et al., Cross-platform mass spectrometry annotation in breathomics of oesophageal-gastric cancer, Sci. Rep., 8, 5139 (2018).

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