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Salivaomics in oral cancer

Aro, Katria; Kaczor-Urbanowicz, Karolinab; Carreras-Presas, Carmen Martínc

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: April 2019 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 91–97
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000502
HEAD AND NECK ONCOLOGY: Edited by Cesare Piazza

Purpose of review The goal of cancer screening is to detect tumor at an early stage, and early cancer detection is the hallmark of successful treatment. In addition to traditional tissue biopsy-based diagnostics, more reliable, inexpensive, and noninvasive methods are required for early diagnosis of cancer. In this review, we highlight some of the recent advancements in the field of salivary diagnostics in oral cancer.

Recent findings ‘Salivaomics’ is a broad collection of technologies used to explore different types of molecules contained in saliva. Although many protein and mRNA salivary biomarkers have been identified that can detect oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), none have so far been validated for current clinical use. As the heterogeneity in carcinogenesis and multifactorial cause for OSCC, the most reliable results are gathered with the use of multiple biomarker candidates to improve accuracy and sensitivity of the test used. This further requires sensitive technology to detect salivary biomarkers in low quantities.

Summary Large scale studies that incorporate proteomic, transcriptomic, and additional ‘omics,’ need to be initiated to bring technology to clinical point-of-care applications.

aDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

bSchool of Dentistry, Center for Oral/Head & Neck Oncology Research, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

cAdult's Dentistry Department, Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Correspondence to Katri Aro, MD, PhD, Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Helsinki University Hospital, PO Box 263, FI-00029 HUS, Helsinki, Finland. Tel: +358 50 4272000; e-mail:

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