Medical Oncology

, 34:7 | Cite as

Salivary biomarkers in cancer detection

  • Xiaoqian Wang
  • Karolina Elżbieta Kaczor-Urbanowicz
  • David T. W. WongEmail author
Review Article


Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the USA. Its symptoms are often not specific and absent, until the tumors have already metastasized. Therefore, there is an urgent demand for developing rapid, highly accurate and noninvasive tools for cancer screening, early detection, diagnostics, staging and prognostics. Saliva as a multi-constituent oral fluid comprises secretions from the major and minor salivary glands, extensively supplied by blood. Molecules such as DNAs, RNAs, proteins, metabolites, and microbiota, present in blood, could be also found in saliva. Recently, salivary diagnostics has drawn significant attention for the detection of specific biomarkers, since the sample collection and processing are simple, cost-effective, and precise and do not cause patient discomfort. Here, we review recent salivary candidate biomarkers for systemic cancers by dividing them according to their origin into: genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic and microbial types.


Biomarkers Cancer Exosomes Saliva 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

David Wong is co-founder of RNAmeTRIX Inc., a molecular diagnostic company. He holds equity in RNAmeTRIX and serves as a company Director and Scientific Advisor. The University of California also holds equity in RNAmeTRIX. Intellectual property that David Wong invented and which was patented by the University of California has been licensed to RNAmeTRIX. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoqian Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karolina Elżbieta Kaczor-Urbanowicz
    • 1
  • David T. W. Wong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Oral/Head and Neck Oncology Research, Laboratory of Salivary Diagnostics, School of DentistryUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, West China Hospital of StomatologySichuan UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China

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