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Forsyth scientists find three bacteria associated with oral cancer

000, in which the scientists compared bacterial samples from the saliva of 229 healthy subjects with samples from 45 patients who had been diagnosed with oral cancer. The team found elevated levels of three bacterial species (C. gingivalis, P. melaninogenica and S. mitis) in oral cancer patients. The scientists obtained similar findings when they controlled for gender, age, and smoking history.

According to Mager, "Those results led us to hypothesize that the three species could serve as diagnostic indicators for OSCC. And, in fact, we found that elevated salivary counts of the three bacteria correctly identified 80% of individuals with oral cancer and 83% of controls."

If their findings are replicated in future studies, the Forsyth team envisions a simple saliva test that could be administered by dental technicians in large screenings, mailed to a diagnostic center, and returned to doctors or dentists within several days.

The need for screening
Government statistics show that, every year, some 30 thousand US residents are diagnosed with oral cancer. Of those diagnosed, more than 90 per cent are found to have OSCC. If discovered and treated early, OSCC has a five-year survival rate of 80-to-90 percent. But 60 percent of OSCC cases are not diagnosed until the later stages and fewer than 54 per cent of individuals diagnosed in those stages live for five yearsXplacing OSCC among the deadliest of cancers.

"Far too many people are not diagnosed until their oral cancer is in its advanced stages," Mager said. In part, that is because, in its early stages, oral cancer may be asymptomatic or mimic benign conditions, so those who have it do not seek dental or medical care. "A saliva test would be an easy, non-invasive way to diagnose or monitor patients."

Until such a test exists, Mager added, "I cannot overemphasize how important it is for every adult to be examined by a dental or medical health professional for signs o
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6-Jul-2005


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