British researchers are developing a test for oral cancer for use by dentists and orthodontists, according to an article on Science Daily. The researchers at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom, have been awarded $2 million by the US National Institutes of Health to develop the test.

The current procedure used to detect oral cancer in a suspicious lesion involves using a scalpel to perform a biopsy, which must be done at an off-site laboratory. The new test would involve using a brush to collect cells, placing them on a chip, and inserting the chip into an analyzer. Results could be available as quickly as 8 to 10 minutes.

Currently, the research team is carrying out a 2-year clinical trial on patients to perfect the technology and make it as sensitive as possible.

If oral cancer is detected early, patients have a 5-year survival rate of more than 90%. However, when not diagnosed early, the overall survival rate for patients diagnosed with oral cancer is about 50%, among the lowest rates for all major cancers.