GP saliva tests to detect cancer

27 March 2013

A simple saliva test at your GPs could hold the key to early cancer detection.

Patients could be routinely checked for their genetic risk of the disease by 2018, according to the largest investigation of its kind involving more than 1,000 scientists worldwide.

Researchers say this has taken them one step closer to having an effective prostate cancer screening programme.

The landmark study has greatly multiplied the number of recognised genetic tell tale signs linked to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Samples would be sent to laboratory specialists, but GPs could eventually be doing the analysis themselves.

The cheap tests will allow patients who show these signs to be monitored closely for the initial signs of developing cancer or offered preventative treatment.

Study author Professor Doug Easton, a Cancer Research UK scientist from Cambridge University, said: "We're on the verge of being able to use our knowledge of these genetic variations to develop tests that could complement breast cancer screening and take us a step closer to having an effective prostate cancer screening programme."

Ovarian cancer tests are also anticipated.

The Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study (Cogs) compared the DNA of more than 100,000 cancer patients with 100,000 people not suffering from it.

They used microchips able to identify more than 200,000 genetic variants, some of which were suspected of being linked to cancer.

They found that individually each variant has a small impact on cancer risk. When added together, however, big numbers of the variants greatly raise the risk of disease.

Copyright Press Association 2013