New Delhi, Aug 7 : With an aim to bring a saliva-based test for screening oral cancer to India, the Tata Centre for Development (TCD) at Chicago University in the US on Wednesday announced collaboration with the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in Mumbai.
The test could be used for patients to detect tumour DNA from mouth cancers.
The core objective of this research project is to detect presence of mutations in a non-invasive method from the tumour in patients with oral cancer.
Currently, observational clinical trial is going on throughout India to develop the test, the Tata Centre for Development said in a statement.
This collaboration is expected to augment the efforts towards collecting tumour tissue and matched saliva from patients with oral cancer.
"Our collaboration with the Tata Memorial Centre will help us in developing the assay and conducting the trial," said Nishant Agrawal, Professor at University of Chicago Medical Center.
Oral cancer ranks among the top three types of cancer in India.
It is also the leading cancer among men and the fifth most frequently occurring cancer in women.
India, reportedly, contributes nearly 60 per cent to the oral cancer burden worldwide, and the number of cases is expected to double by 2030.
Unfortunately, 60-80 per cent of oral cancers are diagnosed at advanced stages when survival is well below 50 per cent.
"With recent advances in sequencing technology, we have been able to demonstrate that tumour DNA can be detected in saliva of patients.
It is an easily accessible, non-invasive liquid biopsy method," Agrawal said.
Evidence suggests that if oral cancer is diagnosed early and treated as localised tumours, the five-year survival rate would significantly improve.
The five-year survival rate for stage III or IV cancer is between 20 and 40 per cent as opposed to 70-90 per cent for stage I or II cancer.
"The research holds promise for both the patients and the doctors because it gives them an opportunity to address pre-cancerous lesions and early detection of invasive cancer and treat it with simple interventions," said Rajendra Badwe, Director at Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai.