‘10-minute’ test offers new hope for early cancer diagnosis

Saliva Swab

A new test which can detect some cancers in as little as 10 minutes from a sample of saliva is being developed by scientists in the US.

David Wong, a professor of Oncology at California State University says the test is able to detect fragments of the genetic messenger molecule RNA from bodily fluids, dubbed a liquid biopsy.

The test, which uses a minute quantity of saliva, can be turned around in as little as 10 minutes and is said to have given “100% accurate” results in early trials. The simple test could be carried out at a GP surgery, at a pharmacy or even at home for a cost of around £15.

Doctor Lab Tests

Currently, blood tests can be used to monitor tumours that have already been diagnosed via traditional scans or other methods and been genetically sequenced via a biopsy. Professor Wong’s saliva test is said to provide enough data to give a definitive diagnosis as soon as a tumour has developed and potentially, before metastasis, or spread, has begun which could result in less invasive treatment and improved outcomes for cancer patients.

Professor Wong told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington: “If there is circulating signature of a tumour in a person blood or saliva, this test will find it.

Early detection

“Early detection is crucial. Any time you gain in finding out that someone has a life-threatening cancer, the sooner the better.

“The advantages of our technology is that it is non-invasive. If you have a credible early screening risk assessment technology that people can use on their own or at dentists’ office or pharmacists - that’s the key, early detection.”

Lab Tests

Full clinical trials are expected to begin in lung cancer patients in China later this year and will then be subject to approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the US. It is hoped the test may be available in the UK by the end of the decade, where it could potentially be used to detect a range of different cancers.


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