Blood tests may soon be a norm for conditions like depression or breast cancer. Along the same lines, scientists from the Michigan State University have developed an inexpensive saliva test for the detection of oral cancer.

A trial to test the effectiveness of the saliva test is underway. Almost 100 to 120 individuals with lesions or abnormal growths or tonsils will be included in the study. They will look for specific biomarkers of oral cancer that were previously discovered. This method can be used by dentists and physicians to advise the affected people regarding treatment. It could avoid biopsies that are sometimes conducted for healthy persons, which do not seem to be beneficial in any way.

“Most white lesions are benign, so a majority of people who develop them are getting biopsies that are not needed. Conversely, a simple test would allow us to identify those patients with malignant lesions and get them into treatment quicker,” commented Barry Wenig, a professor in the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Surgery and lead investigator on the project.

According to the team, oral cancer can only be combated if detected at an early stage. This is a major breakthrough where dentists have an important role to play. People visit them on a regular basis that should make it simple for them to conduct the saliva test and take appropriate steps thereafter.

The scientists are also working towards developing saliva tests for the diagnosis of other cancers. The procedure is something as simple as spitting into a cup. Importantly, it is straightforward and non-invasive, which is a welcome change in terms of the present diagnostic tests.

This alternative form of diagnosis may have tremendous potential to alter screenings for many chronic diseases.