Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A study looking at a new way of finding abnormal cells in the mouth
This study looked into a way of testing cells from the lining of the mouth to help diagnose mouth cancer that didn’t involve surgery, was simpler and low cost.
More about this trial
To diagnose mouth cancer, doctors take a sample of tissue (a biopsy) from the inside of your mouth. Usually, they make the area numb with a local anaesthetic, then cut the tissue with a scalpel. This is called a surgical biopsy.
By looking at the tissue under the microscope, they can see if the cells are cancerous. And they can see if there are any early cell changes that have the potential to turn into cancer in the future (
Researchers looked at a new way of collecting abnormal cells without taking a surgical biopsy and also at testing the cells quickly. They took the cells from the lining of the mouth using a small plastic brush (similar to a toothbrush) and tested them using something called dielectrophoresis (dye-el-ek-tro-for-ee-sis).
Dielectrophoresis involved putting the cells into a small device that contained 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 have been different. The device automatically identified cells that have abnormal movements (cancerous cells) and quickly showed the results on a computer screen.
Summary of results
The study team found that dielectrophoresis (DEP) has the possibility of being developed into a low cost tool for doctors to identify mouth cancer early.
Researches collected cells samples of the mouth from 57 people
- 45 people had mouth cancer
- 12 people didn’t
The team found that DEP could tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell.
They concluded that DEP has the potential to form the basis of a rapid low cost test for doctors to use to diagnose mouth cancer. They want to further develop and improve DEP before doing a clinical trial with a larger number of people.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Stephen Porter
Dr Stefano Fedele
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London (UCL)
NIHR: Research for Innovation, Speculation and Creativity Program (RISC)
NIHR: Invention for Innovation Program
Finance South East Collaboration Fund