A biomarker found in the mouth may help dental care specialists diagnose patients with cancer of the mouth and gums at earlier stages, according to a study published in the web-based journal, PLoS ONE.
One of the first signs of oral cancer is the development of white or red sores on the inside of the mouth, which commonly go untested because they are typically cancer-free. However, if cancerous lesions go untreated, the disease can progress to later stages.
In an effort to improve oral cancer detection, a team of researchers conducted a series of tests, and discovered the hBD-3 biomarker, which improves immune system health in the mouth. The location of the compound is what has made these results important, as they were found in the lining of the mouth where cancerous cells begin to grow.
Because they were able to discover where the hBD-3 biomarker develops, the investigators concluded that these findings could lead to the development of diagnostic equipment that could detect oral cancer sooner.
"Using the biomarker to detect oral cancer holds potential for saving lives when the cancer is most curable. Annually some 10,000 people die from this cancer," said Ge Jin, assistant professor of biological sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
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