How a lollipop can help to spot the early signs of mouth cancer trends now

How a lollipop can help to spot the early signs of mouth cancer trends now
How a lollipop can help to spot the early signs of mouth cancer trends now

How a lollipop can help to spot the early signs of mouth cancer trends now

Scientists hope it will speed up diagnoses which affect 9,000 people a year 

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A lollipop that absorbs tumour-related proteins from saliva could reduce the time it takes to diagnose mouth cancer.

When the fruit-flavoured sweet, which is being developed by scientists at Birmingham University, is sucked for just a few minutes, the proteins — released by mouth cancer cells as they grow and spread — become 'stuck' in its special gel coating.

The gel is then blasted with ultra-violet light (which breaks it down to a runny liquid), to release its cargo, allowing doctors to spot if there is a tumour in minutes.

The researchers hope the lollipop will speed up the diagnosis of oral cancers — or could even be used to screen for tumours in those most at risk, such as people who smoke or drink large amounts of alcohol.

Almost 9,000 people a year in Britain are diagnosed with an oral cancer, which includes cancers of the tongue, gums, tonsils, lips and roof and floor of the mouth.

Scientists at Birmingham University hope a lollipop that absorbs tumour-related proteins from saliva could reduce the time it takes to diagnose mouth cancer (Stock image)

Scientists at Birmingham University hope a lollipop that absorbs tumour-related proteins from saliva could reduce the time it takes to diagnose mouth cancer (Stock image)

A patient getting a regular dental check-up (Stock image). Mouth cancer deaths over the past decade have increased because patients are unable to access an NHS dentist

A patient getting a regular dental check-up (Stock image). Mouth cancer deaths over the past decade have increased because patients are unable to access an NHS dentist 

It causes around 3,000 deaths a year — more than cervical and testicular cancer combined.

That's partly because more than half of cases are detected only once the tumour has spread to other parts of the neck and head, as there are rarely any obvious symptoms. 

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