Sheffield Teaching to test and develop pain-free method to detect oral cancer

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded £1m in funding from SBRI Healthcare to test and develop a pain-free, non-invasive and instantaneous method to detect oral cancer.

It is hoped the new device could enable doctors to detect oral cancer earlier and more accurately, reducing the need for patients to have invasive biopsies.

The device is to be developed with medical device diagnostics company Zilico Ltd – born out of a partnership between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It is anticipated that the prototype will be ready for testing on a group of volunteers, with the aim to progress the project to a full clinical trial in the next 12 months.

Dr Keith Hunter, Professor of Head and Neck Pathology, at the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry and Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, said: “Mouth cancer is on the increase in the UK and globally, and we need new tools to be able to diagnose it earlier, as the survival rate for oral cancer patients depends on how early the disease is diagnosed and treated.”

“Electrical impedance spectroscopy could help us to diagnose oral cancer earlier and more accurately, even when these cell changes may not be visually apparent. This could reduce the need for biopsies where there is no disease indicated – helping us to reduce patient anxiety and improve patient comfort.”

“Hopefully developing less invasive techniques of diagnosing oral cancer will encourage more people to come forward with oral problems.”