According the that National Cancer Institute, cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx are expected to have accounted for about 2.8% of all new cancer cases and about 1.8% of all cancer deaths in 2022 in the United States. This makes it about the 13th most common type of cancer globally. Fortunately, oral cancer has the benefit of occurring in an easily accessible area of the body, which makes it a bit easier to both detect and offer treatment for people developing oral cancer.
A team of researchers from the University of Florida and National Yang Ming Chiao Tun University in Taiwan have designed a handheld tool that can quickly and accurately detect and diagnose oral cancers; specifically, oral squamous cell carcinomas. The device is described in a recent article published in The Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.
Existing tools for detecting oral cancers are accurate, but they require histological testing, which means a sample has to be sent elsewhere for testing, which takes time. The new device developed by researchers could all clinicians to detect and diagnose oral cancers right there in clinic. The device has two key components: a small strip for use as a sense and a circuit board that’s used to detect cancers. Electrodes are on the sensory strip alone with antibodies that can detect certain proteins associated with oral cancers. When these proteins are detected, the electrodes create pulses that are registered by the sensory strip, which analyzes the pulses. This essentially, tells the user of the device is oral squamous cell carcinoma proteins were detected.
In terms of next steps, researchers plan to conduct a study using the device on samples of CIP21, which is one of the key biomarkers of oral squamous cell carcinoma. They hope to compare samples from both cancerous and noncancerous samples and compare their tool to biopsy tools, which remain the cornerstone of detecting and diagnosing oral squamous cell carcinoma.