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HomeHealthGargled saline water could now replace painful biopsies to detect oral cancer,...

Gargled saline water could now replace painful biopsies to detect oral cancer, tumours

Saliva test to detect oral cancer expected to cost between Rs 700 & Rs 7,000. Average cost of oral biopsy in India currently varies between Rs 5,000 & Rs 25,000.

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New Delhi: Rinsing mouth with saline water could now replace painful biopsies for diagnosis of oral cancer at an early stage.

In collaboration with the Tata Centre for Development (TCD), the University of Chicago (UChicago) has claimed to have developed a new diagnostic tool that detects oral cancer and tumours through saliva. Oral cancer is the most common cancer among men, and the fifth most common among women in India.

Indian researchers Dr Nishant Agrawal from UChicago Medicine, Dr Vishal Rao from HCG Oncology and Ramesh Hariharan from Strand Life Sciences have led the development of the tool, which they claim to be a game changer.

The non-invasive test could help in early detection of oral cancers, which are mostly diagnosed at later stages resulting in low treatment outcomes and high costs.

Expected to cost anywhere between Rs 700-7,000 approximately, the test could also slash the cost of diagnosis by eliminating the requirement of intrusive biopsy. The average cost of oral biopsy in India varies between Rs 5,000-25,000.

Results of the study conducted to develop the diagnostic tool haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet. It is also awaiting the required certifications to become market ready.

“We are hoping that the technology will be available in the market in the next six months to one year, across the country,” Agrawal told ThePrint.

The study comes as part of a collaborative initiative of Tata Group’s TCD with UChicago over 38 research projects covering sectors such as education, energy, environment, health, medicine, water and sanitation.

Bengaluru-based Strand Life Sciences and Indian oncology specialist chain HCG Global are also associated with the study.


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How it works

Patients can take the simple test by just gargling saline water from the mouth into a specialised container.

“The container would have a preservative that can be stored at room temperature. The sample would then be sent to a centralised lab for testing,” Agrawal said.

Through the developed technology, the lab would check the given specimens for the tumour or cancerous mutations in the saliva.

The test eliminates the need for trained pathologists to conduct biopsies and can be used in conducting mass screening programmes due to portable machines to check the specimens.

“While open surgical biopsy is 95-100 percent accurate, fine-needle aspiration and core needle biopsy have an overall accuracy of 75.4 percent and 80.7 percent, respectively. The accuracy rates of saline water technique is above 90 per cent,” Agrawal claimed.

He added, “…we have conducted a study on 100 patients in India where the technology has proved to be successful and accurate. However, the clinical trial study is still unpublished.”

According to Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (PSR) journal, 20 out of 100,000 people in India are affected by oral cancer. It accounts for about 30 per cent of all types of cancer. “Over 5 people in India die every hour everyday due to oral cancer,” the PSR report says.


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