One of the many reasons to visit an oral health professional regularly is that dentists are trained to detect oral cancer. This is a very serious disease, and early detection is the key to effective treatment. Recently, researchers from Michigan State University announced that they are working on a simple, cost-effective saliva test to diagnose oral cancer, which may help save lives.
According to the scientists, this test will hopefully cut back on the number of people who receive unnecessary biopsies, which are sometimes expensive and painful.
"Most white lesions are benign, so a majority of people who develop them are getting biopsies that are not needed," said researcher Barry Wenig. "Conversely, a simple test would allow us to identify those patients with malignant lesions and get them into treatment quicker."
The researcher added that only 60 percent of patients live beyond five years after being diagnosed with oral cancer. This high mortality rate is associated with late detection of the disease, which is why developing a quick and easy way to test for it might save lives.
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year.
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