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New 'dentist' test to detect oral cancer will save lives
Date:8/9/2010

A new test for oral cancer, which a dentist could perform by simply using a brush to collect cells from a patient's mouth, is set to be developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The international research team, involving scientists in Sheffield, has been awarded $2 million from the USA's National Institutes of Health to develop the test, which could provide an accurate diagnosis in less than 20 minutes for lesions where there is a suspicion of oral cancer.

The current procedure used to detect oral cancer in a suspicious lesion involves using a scalpel to perform a biopsy and off-site laboratory tests which can be time consuming. The new test will involve removing cells with a brush, placing them on a chip, and inserting the chip into the analyser, leading to a result in 8-10 minutes. This will have a number of benefits including cutting waiting times and the number of visits, and also cost savings for the NHS.

The team in Sheffield, led by Professor Martin Thornhill, Professor of Oral Medicine at the University of Sheffield and a Consultant in Oral Medicine at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, has begun carrying out clinical trials on patients at Charles Clifford Dental Hospital for two years to perfect the technology and make it as sensitive as possible. If the trials confirm that the new technology is as effective as carrying out a biopsy then it could become a regular application at dentist surgeries in the future.

If oral cancer is detected early, the prognosis for patients is excellent, with a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent. Unfortunately, many oral cancers are not diagnosed early and the overall survival rate is only about 50 percent, among the lowest rates for all major cancers.

The project is being led by Professor John McDevitt from Rice University, USA, who has developed the novel micro-chip. This new technology uses the latest
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Contact: Lauren Anderson
l.h.anderson@sheffield.ac.uk
01-142-221-046
University of Sheffield
Source:Eurekalert

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