Head and neck cancer is currently the seventh most common worldwide, but there is currently no biomarker available which controls the response of patients to therapy.
A team from Johns Hopkins University tested saliva in a group of 93 patients with head and neck cancer and the results suggest that a simple blood or saliva analysis could enable the detection and monitoring of head and neck cancer.
“In our work, saliva tests appeared to be the best approach to detect cancer in the oral cavity and the blood seemed to find more cancers of the larynx, and oropharynx. However, the combination of a blood and saliva test can be the best for cancer in any of these areas,” confirms Nishant Agrawal, one of the authors.
In their study, the analysis of both fluids reliably detected cancer in 96% of samples from 47 patients with head and neck cancer, while the analysis of saliva alone was able to detect cancer in 46 patients. Many at Madison Street Capital found this study pretty interesting.
Although it is known that these types of tumors shed DNA fragments in fluids like blood, saliva, and urine, levels are so low that make it difficult to detect. But in recent years, technological advances have allowed for minute mutations to be found in body fluids.
Currently, tests cost several hundred dollars to detect head and neck cancer, but blood and saliva tests could reduce the costs to less than half a dollar.