A study looking at how to diagnose mouth cancer (PANDORA)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Mouth (oral) cancer





This study is looking at a new way to diagnose mouth cancer.

To diagnose mouth cancer doctors often cut a small piece of tissue from the affected area. This is called a scalpel biopsy. By looking at the tissue under the microscope, they can see if the cells are cancerous.

In this study the researchers are looking at a new way of collecting cells without taking a scalpel biopsy. They are also looking at a new way to test whether the cells are cancerous. They will use a small brush (like a toothbrush) to collect the cells. This is called a brush biopsy. They will then test the cells using a method called dielectrophoresis (dye-el-ek-tro-for-ee-sis).

Dielectrophoresis involves putting the cells into a device that contains an electric field and a small camera to watch their movements. As cancerous cells are different from normal cells, their movements within the electric field should be different. We know from laboratory studies Open a glossary item that cancer cells and normal cells behave differently during dielectrophoresis.

The researchers will take brush biopsies from people who have mouth cancer and from people who don’t have mouth cancer. They will use dielectrophoresis on the cell samples and compare the results. The aims of this study are to find out

  • How well dielectrophoresis works in identifying cancer cells
  • If brush biopsies can collect enough cells to use for dielectrophoresis

Please note – you will not benefit directly from taking part in this study and it will not affect any treatment you may have. It is possible that the results of this study may help to improve how mouth cancer is diagnosed in the future.

Who can enter

This study will recruit 3 different groups of people. You must be at least 18 years old to enter.

You may be able to enter the 1st group if you have a type of mouth cancer called squamous cell or you have an area of abnormal cells (dysplasia Open a glossary item) in your mouth.

You may be able to enter the 2nd group if you have a disease of your mouth that isn’t cancer and have had a small piece of tissue (biopsy Open a glossary item) removed with surgery.

You may be able to enter the 3rd group if you have a medical problem with your mouth (such as a tooth infection, cysts Open a glossary item or nerve pain) and you don’t have an area of abnormal growth in your mouth.

Trial design

This study will recruit 35 people into each of the 3 groups, making a total of 105 people.

The researchers will collect 2 samples of cells from your mouth using a small brush (like a toothbrush). They will then look at these samples using dielectrophoresis.

Hospital visits

The researchers intend to take the cell samples at one of your routine hospital visits. So there are no extra hospital visits if you enter the study.

Side effects

There may be some discomfort after having the brushings done. This should go away within an hour.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Stefano Fedele

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme
University College London (UCL)

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10452

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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