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Mouth Swab May One Day Diagnose Lung Cancer
Date:4/16/2008

It offers prospect of quick, non-invasive identification of the dangerous disease

WEDNESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors may some day be able to accurately, rapidly, and non-invasively diagnose lung cancer with nothing more than a quick swab of the mouth, a new study suggests.

Oral cavity tissue damage -- at the molecular level -- appears to be a highly accurate indicator of similar lung tissue damage following long-term exposure to tobacco carcinogens, the researchers said. The prospect of such a novel diagnostic technique raises hope for a faster, easier, and much less painful means to diagnosis lung cancer, they added.

"We tried to figure out whether oral cells mimic or reflect tobacco-induced damage in the lung," said study senior author Dr. Li Mao, a professor of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology, as well as systems biology, at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "And what we found is that more than 90 percent of the time you see the same abnormalities in oral cells that you see in lung tissue."

Mao discussed his findings during a Wednesday teleconference at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, in San Diego.

Following Mao's presentation, the results of other studies concerning similar diagnostic advances in other fields of cancer research were presented.

Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit said that an analysis of DNA extracted from saliva might ultimately enable physicians to detect early signs of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma -- a disease that currently affects 40,000 Americans.

Scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston provided evidence that fallopian tube tissue -- rather than ovarian surface cells -- could be the source for half of all cases of sporadic and hereditary serous carcinoma, the most aggressive form of ovarian cancer. The finding could lead to earlier detectio
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