New tool helps detect oral cancer

April 7, 2010 at 11:17 PM

HOUSTON, April 7 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they have found a non-invasive and painless way of detecting oral cancers.

A chip device in a tool about the size and shape of a toothbrush may also be a lot quicker -- delivering results in 15 minutes -- than the days it takes for a biopsy.

Researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas Health Science Centers at Houston and San Antonio, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center said the new nano-bio-chip indicator was 97 percent as sensitive as more invasive techniques in detecting oral cancers.

The study, published in Cancer Prevention Research, also found the diagnostic nano-bio-chip developed at Rice was 93 percent specific in detecting patients with malignant or pre-malignant lesions.

"One of the key discoveries in this paper is to show that the miniaturized, non-invasive approach produces about the same result as the pathologists do," study leader John McDevitt of Rice University said in a statement.

McDevitt and colleagues are working toward an inexpensive chip that differentiates pre-malignancies from the vast majority of lesions -- 95 percent -- that will not become cancerous.

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