This new test for breast cancer promises no false positives

September 02, 2008
Volume 05    |   Issue 33

Don't be surprised if some day in the near future your dentist suggests he tests you for breast cancer.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center (Houston, TX), along with scientists at several cancer research centers, recently made a huge discovery. They found that women with breast cancer carry different proteins than women who have no malignancy. In fact, they found that women who are healthy, have breast cancer, or have a benign tumor all carry different proteins.

What?s more, these researchers found a very easy, non-invasive way to figure out which proteins you carry. That?s because we carry these proteins in our saliva. This means that a simple saliva test could show whether or not you have breast cancer. And the test is so simple your dentist could do it the next time you get your teeth cleaned.

How accurate is the test? It?s so accurate that this new test could completely eliminate false positive and false negative results.

This group of researchers, headed by Dr. Charles Streckfus, an expert on human saliva and molecular epidemiology, recently compared the saliva from each of the three groups of people. They found 130 proteins — 49 of which were different between healthy patients and people with tumors. Some of these proteins were unique to benign breast tumors.

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Mammograms can find tumors, but they can?t tell you whether or not these tumors are malignant. This test can.

The researchers are hopeful that they can develop a diagnostic test that can detect a cancer even before a tumor is formed.

Dr. Catherine M Flaitz, dean of the UT Dental Branch at Houston, is hopeful. "Dentistry has entered an exciting new era. On every front, our researchers are exploring links between oral health and the overall health of patients, often with astonishing findings. We?re working to bring those discoveries out of the lab and into the real world of dentists? and physicians? offices."

As soon as this test becomes available, I?ll be sure to tell you. So keep reading these weekly health alerts for the most recent information on diagnostic tests and therapies that can improve — and maybe even save your life.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Charles F. Streckfus; et al, "Breast Cancer Related Proteins Are Present in Saliva and Are Modulated Secondary to Ductal Carcinoma In Situ of the Breast." Cancer Investigation, Published online on 10 January 2008.

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