Saliva test could help detect oral cancer early

August 25, 2009 2:04:48 PM PDT
It's being called a major step towards the early diagnosis of oral cancer. Researchers say they have found that saliva contains at least 50 micro-RNAs that could aid detection. So, what's that mean? By measuring those levels, doctors are able to identify oral cancer patient's in the earliest stages.

Micro-RNAs are molecules that control activity and assess the behavior of multiple genes.

Scientists say the findings published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research need to be confirmed. But they call it the Holy Grail of cancer detection-- to be able to measure the presence of a cancer without a biopsy. Instead, the cancer-specific marker would be in a patient's saliva.