Queensland researchers expose insidious killer
IN A POTENTIAL world-first discovery, Queensland researchers have developed a saliva test that can detect hidden throat cancer in patients who show no symptoms.
Queensland University of Technology faculty of health professor Chamindie Punyadeera and Dr Kai Tang developed the non-invasive test which picked up HPV (human papillomavirus) - the leading cause of cancers in the tonsils and tongue base areas of the throat - in an infected but seemingly healthy person.
A 2mm cancer was then removed from the patient's tonsil, and no recurrence of HPV has been found in the man's saliva.
The discovery was made during an HPV-prevalence study which included 665 healthy individuals.
"The series of saliva tests raised the alert and detected an early cancer before the person had any symptoms," Prof Punyadeera said.
She said the incidence of high-risk HPV-driven throat cancers was on the rise in developed countries, and was often discovered only when it is more advanced.
This was the first case of histologically confirmed diagnosis of an asymptomatic hidden throat cancer diagnosed with a saliva screening test, Prof Punyadeera said, however wider validation studies were required to confirm this finding.
"In the US, HPV-driven throat cancers have surpassed cervical cancers as the most common cancer caused by HPV but unlike cervical cancer, up until now, there has been no screening test for this type of oropharyngeal cancer," she said.
To take the test, a salivary oral rinse sample needs to be given before tests determine whether HPV-16 is persistent over a period of time.
Originally published as Queensland researchers expose insidious killer