Emerging cancer-detecting breath tests tout high sensitivity, specificity — 3 study insights

A study published in JAMA Oncology analyzed how effective volatile organic compound breath tests were in detecting cancer.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of 63 relevant publications and 3,554 patients to identify the pooled diagnostic accuracy of VOC breath tests. All results related to phase 1 biomarker studies.

Here's what researchers found:

1. The pooled results had a mean area under the receiver operating characteristic analysis curve of 0.94.

2. The tests had 79 percent sensitivity and 89 percent specificity.

3. Researchers discovered that several factors affected results, including breath collection method, patient physiologic condition, test environment and analysis method.

Researchers concluded, "The findings of our review suggest that standardization of breath collection methods and masked validation of breath test accuracy for cancer diagnosis is needed among the intended population in multicenter clinical trials. We propose a framework to guide the conduct of future breath tests in cancer studies."

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