Malignant tumors of the oral cavity are the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. As such, a fast and accurate diagnosis is key to maximizing the probability of successful treatment and the hope and quality of life of patients. Investigators from the Biomedical Research Institute (IBI), in Galicia, Spain, who form part of the BIOCAPS (Biomedical Capacities Support Programme) project, have patented a novel, faster, more reliable, and less invasive technique for detecting carcinomas in the oral mucosa. This patent has been licensed to the company Irida Ibérica, which is currently developing a portable prototype and will fund further research by the IBI scientists to establish the exact malignancy parameters by way of in vivo trials, in other words using tissues analyzed in patients. Scientific/clinical collaboration, which is one of the main objectives of BIOCAPS to ensure research results oriented towards resolving problems in medical practice, has formed a key part of this breakthrough. Thus, the New Materials Group at IBI and the Otorhinolaryngology Department at the Hospital Povisa (Vigo, Spain) worked together to develop this new technique, which could possibly be adapted for application in the diagnosis of other common cancers, such as cervical and skin cancer, in the future. “The earliest symptom of cancer of the oral cavity is the appearance of whitish or reddish lesions, which do not disappear or which may grow larger with time, on the inner surface of the oropharyngeal cavity,” explains Dr. Roberto Valdés from the Hospital Povisa. These lesions subsequently become painful, either spontaneously or during chewing or swallowing, followed by the onset of oral bleeding.
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