Someday, testing for cancer could be as easy as spitting into a cup even at the dentist's office.
UCLA researchers say they have evidence now that tiny markers called RNA can be used to reveal cancer and other problems. It's a theory they are presenting this week to cancer researchers in California.
"If you give me someone's saliva today, could tell you tomorrow, 24 hours later, all the RNA that's present in this individual's saliva," says Dr. David Wong, with the UCLA Cancer Center.
Dr. Wong says they have been able to distinguish with 91 percent accuracy normal saliva from that of a patient with oral cancer.
Saliva tests are already used to find HIV and drug use, but Dr. Wong believes we are on the verge of using saliva to identify about 10 other diseases, including cancer, simply by asking patients to give a sample of their spit. More study is needed, but Dr. Wong is hopeful that we could have a cancer spit test available in two years.