Saliva tests could help diagnose cancer, study finds

Saliva tests could give doctors a new way to spot and diagnose mouth cancers, a new study suggests.

Reseachers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States examined 93 patients with newly-diagnosed head and neck cancers, and found DNA shed from tumours could be measured in both saliva and blood.

Saliva tests could provide a new way to test for cancer Credit: Reuters

Tumour DNA was found in the saliva of 76 per cent of the patients, and in the blood of 87 per cent - and all 46 different kinds of oral cavity, mouth and tongue cancers could be correctly identified through saliva tests.

Blood tests revealed tumour DNA in 91 per cent of oropharynx cancers, 86 per cent of larynx cancers and all three hypopharynx cancers.

Lead researcher Dr Nishant Agrawal said the study could help develop new methods of screening.

In our study, testing saliva seemed to be the best way to detect cancers in the oral cavity, and blood tests appeared to find more cancers in the larynx, hypopharynx and oropharynx.

However, combining blood and saliva tests may offer the best chance of finding cancer in any of those regions.

– Dr Nishant Agrawal, Johns Hopkins University