R.I. nonprofit awards grant to fund esophageal cancer research in Seattle

PROVIDENCE – A Rhode Island nonprofit has awarded a grant to support research aimed at determining the accuracy of a breath test for detecting esophageal cancer.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, based in East Greenwich, gave $62,597 to a project headed by Dr. Donald Low, a specialist in esophageal and thoracic surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Low is working on the project with Dr. George Hanna, of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

About 50 patients over the next 12 to 18 months are expected to take part in the study. They will provide saliva and urine samples, along with exhaled breaths, to be evaluated for commonalities at three separate stages of patients’ treatment.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation learned of ongoing research into noninvasive testing methods taking place in the United Kingdom, said Linda Molfesi, the group’s president.

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Hanna connected the foundation with Low based on his interest in research on breath analysis for esophageal cancer.

“We are very excited about this research and look forward to the outcome,” Molfesi said.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 16,000 people will die from esophageal cancer in the United States this year, and less than 20% of those diagnosed with it will live longer than five years.