Scientists Closer to a Saliva Test for Cancer

swab3Researchers are on track to soon begin trialing a saliva test on cancer patients that can quickly and accurately detect biomarkers of lung cancer. If successful, doctors will, in effect, be able to perform a non-invasive “liquid biopsy” that can be done in the office and deliver results within 10 minutes.

The test would be used in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. For example, if a patient’s X-ray shows a suspicious nodule, doctors could administer the saliva test to more quickly determine if cancer is likely.

A team led by oral cancer and saliva diagnostics researcher Prof. David Wong of the School of Dentistry at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) has been working for 10 years to develop the biopsy method that detects circulating tumor DNA in bodily fluids such as saliva and blood.

In addition to dramatically cutting waiting time for biopsy results, the new method could also reduce the cost and inconvenience of biopsies, while making it easier to track the progress of the disease during treatment.

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