By Natalie Thomas
A new genetic test could detect pre-cancerous cells in patients with mouth sores or ulcers.
The first signs of mouth cancer could be uncovered by the gMIDS test, which measures the activity of 16 genes.
About 350 samples of head and neck tissue were taken from 299 patients in Britain and Norway. The test was shown to have a cancer detection rate of up to 94 per cent.
Lesions in the mouth, such as ulcers and sores, are one of the main symptoms of mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer.
These lesions are, however, quite common, and the majority of them are benign, with only 5 per cent to 30 per cent developing into cancer.
The findings of the research can be found in the International Journal of Cancer.
Oral cancer affects more than 6,200 people in Britain annually.
Lead researcher Dr Muy-Teck Teh, from the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "A sensitive test capable of quantifying a patient's cancer risk is needed to avoid the adoption of a 'wait-and-see' intervention.
"Detecting cancer early, coupled with appropriate treatment, can significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce mortality, and alleviate long-term public healthcare costs."