Scientists are developing a cancer test that takes only about 10 minutes to perform with just a drop of saliva. David Wong, a professor of oncology at California State University, says the liquid biopsy test is 100 percent accurate and can be done at home, at a pharmacy or even at the doctor’s office.

The liquid biopsy test is an approach used to detect tumour DNA in body fluid circulation. Wong adds that the test is not invasive and only costs around AU$30.

Wong told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington a drop of saliva has enough information to allow an accurate diagnosis as soon as tumour develops. The test will find the genetic mutations consistent with a tumour if it is circulating in an individual’s blood or saliva.

As of now, physicians only employ blood tests to identify cancer after performing a biopsy test and sequencing the tumour to identify the genetic signature. While this current practice is used to determine the spread of cancer, this can show false positive results when used for an initial test.


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Wikimedia/ wishuponacupcake

The scientists say that the test will undergo clinical trials in patients with lung cancer in 2016 and will be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within two years. Wong also hopes that this will be incorporated in UK’s health care system within 10 years.

Wong asserts that early detection is still the most important factor in dealing with cancer. The team also hopes that this would be used to detect multiple cancers at the same time.

“Any time you gain in finding out that someone has a life-threatening cancer, the sooner the better. The advantage of our technology is that it is non-invasive. If you have a credible early screening risk assessment technology that people can use on their own or at dentists’ office or pharmacists – that’s the key, early detection,” says Wong.

Other advancements in cancer treatment include using light to kill cancer cells.  A new microscope has also been created to detect cancer without biopsy.