One of the most prevalent forms of oral cancer is oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), for which the five-year survival rate has stubbornly remained at 50 percent for many years partly because diagnosis is usually made at a late stage. Better identification of both OSCC and the non-malignant lesions that can precede it would help to reduce the impact of the disease and optical techniques may offer a route to this goal.
A team of researchers has developed a Raman spectroscopy platform able to distinguish malignant and non-malignant lesions from healthy oral tissue, potentially offering a clinically valuable way to spot developing oral cancer.
Raman spectroscopy is not only label-free and non-invasive, but it can potentially be used in ambient light conditions. This makes it promising for use as a potential screening tool in the dentist’s office. The ability of Raman spectra to reveal the molecular composition of tissues has already been put to good use in identifying relevant biomarkers in prostate, cervical and other cancers, as well as improving our understanding of chemotherapy. But the technique has not as yet been widely used for spotting OSCC.