Blood, saliva pro­to­type finds most oral can­cers

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A new test that uses blood and saliva to de­tect head and neck can­cers has shown prom­ise in a small num­ber of pa­tients, re­searchers said Wed­nes­day.

While it will likely be years be­fore the test is avail­able to the public, the find­ings by re­searchers at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity have raised hope for a cheap screen­ing test that den­tists or doc­tors could one day de­liver dur­ing reg­u­lar of­fice vis­its.

Head and neck can­cers af­fect some 50,000 peo­ple in the United States each year and are on the rise among men. The main risk fac­tors are al­co­hol, smok­ing and hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV), a com­mon sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tion that of­ten goes un­de­tected.

“We have shown that tu­mor DNA in the blood or saliva can suc­cess­fully be mea­sured for these can­cers,” said lead au­thor Nis­hant Agrawal, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of oto­laryn­gol­ogy and on­col­ogy at the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity School of Medicine.

The study in­volved 93 pa­tients with can­cer that had been di­ag­nosed.

In pa­tients known to have HPV­driven can­cers, sci­en­tists searched pa­tients’ blood and saliva sam­ples for cer­tain tu­mor-pro­mot­ing, HPVre­lated DNA.

In those with can­cer not linked to HPV, they looked for mu­ta­tions in a hand­ful of can­cer-re­lated genes.

The re­searchers found tu­mor DNA in the saliva of 71 of the 93 pa­tients (76 per­cent) and in the blood of 41 of the 47 (87 per­cent).

About half of the pa­tients pro­vided both saliva and blood sam­ples to the sci­en­tists, and the com­bined tests found tu­mor DNA in 45 of those 47 peo­ple (96 per­cent).

“Com­bin­ing blood and saliva tests may of­fer the best chance of find­ing can­cer,” said Agrawal.

More tri­als on a larger num­ber of pa­tients are needed be­fore the test can seek mar­ket ap­proval.

An early form of the test may costs thou­sands of dol­lars, but down the road it could be of­fered for US$50 in a den­tist’s of­fice or pri­mary care set­ting, the re­searchers said.

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