Scientists invent ‘lollipop’ to detect mouth cancer

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A representational image of a healthcare professional running a mouth test on a man. — Pexels
A representational image of a healthcare professional running a mouth test on a man. — Pexels

Researchers developed a lollipop carrying different flavours to detect mouth cancer, moving away from a time-consuming and painful process as scientists say they are entering into a new phase of their current project.

Currently, the testing is done with the help of a camera that is entered through the mouth or nose and then collecting samples for the lab.

Referring to the process, Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “We want an accurate, faster, and kinder alternative test which can help us diagnose cases of mouth cancer sooner.”

But the recently developed method, according to the scientists at the University of Birmingham, would be quick and kind. It is made up of smart hydrogel that can absorb saliva and proteins.

According to the Independent report, scientists said that the absorbed substance can later be sent to lab for the protein analysis.

Dr Ruchi Gupta, associate professor of biosensors at the University of Birmingham, said: “We’re really excited to start the next phase of this project. We’re hoping that we can be the first to make a device which is much kinder for diagnosing mouth cancer for patients and easier for GPs to use.”

Dr Gupta said the team is currently looking at “focus groups to determine flavours for the lollipops.”

What are symptoms of mouth cancer?

A mouth ulcer lasting for over three weeks, a red/white patch inside the mouth, a lump inside or lip, pain, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, a lump in neck or throat, and loss of weight are the major symptoms according to National Health Services of the UK.

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