AMERICAN scientists have developed a saliva test for cancer which could diagnose the disease in patients within ten minutes.
The "liquid biopsy" test looks for fragments of genetic material in a tiny drop of saliva.
Early results from lung cancer patients suggest it has "near-perfect" accuracy, according to the scientist whose team developed the system.
Professor David Wong of the University of California said the test could be done in a doctor's office while you wait.
"Early detection is crucial. Any time you gain in finding out that someone has a life-threatening cancer, the sooner the better. With this capability, it can be implemented by the patient themselves in a home check, or dentist or pharmacy," he said.
Professor Wong hoped the test would be available by 2020 and could be used to diagnose a range of different cancers.
A Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman, Katie Clift, said the research was interesting but still in very early stages.
"Molecular diagnostics is an important, growing field, but there is currently limited evidence on how it will shape clinical decisions," she said.
"We look forward to more research on this proposed test, and other methods to improve the early detection of cancer."
In Queensland more than 26000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year and about 8600 people die from the disease.