Saliva Proteins May Help Spot Oral Cancer

Oct. 4 --

FRIDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A simple test of saliva proteins may one day help doctors detect oral cancer, according to a new study in the Oct. 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

For their study, part of the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research's Human Saliva Proteome Project, researchers collected saliva samples from 64 people with oral squamous cell carcinoma (a form of oral cancer) and 64 healthy people.

Looking at five protein biomarkers in the saliva samples, the researchers determined that the biomarkers confirmed the presence of oral cancer 93 percent of the time.

"This test is currently not available, but we are developing point-of-care microfluidic devices to detect these markers that we can use in clinical trials," Shen Hu, assistant professor of oral biology and proteomics at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry, said in an American Association for Cancer Research news release.

This research may lead to a simple and noninvasive tool clinicians can use to diagnose oral cancer.

"I believe a test measuring these biomarkers will come to a point of regular use in the future," said Hu. "We have demonstrated a new approach for cancer biomarker discovery using saliva proteomics."

More information

The Oral Cancer Foundation has more about oral cancer.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Oct. 1, 2008