Monday, April 14, 2008

Lung cancer? Your mouth will tell it

Damage to cells lining the mouth can predict similar damage in the lungs that eventually leads to lung cancer in smokers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

They hope it may be possible to some day swab the mouths of smokers to predict who is developing lung cancer -- saving painful and dangerous biopsies of the lung.

The process may also lead to tests that will predict other cancers, said Dr. Li Mao, an expert in head, neck and lung cancer at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"Our study opens the door to enhancing our ability to predict who has higher probability of getting tobacco-related cancers," Mao said in a statement. "Not only lung cancer, but pancreatic, bladder and head and neck cancers, which also are associated with tobacco use."

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