Deciphering the genetic mechanisms in cancer development requires analysis of a large number of tumors for consistent genetic alterations. Single-strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis is a fast and efficient method for detecting mutations, deletions, insertions and loss of alleles. The primary advantage of this method is speed and ability to screen a large number of samples at one time. Here we report the use of the SSCP technique for rapidly screening tumor and normal tissues for mutations and polymorphisms in the p53 tumor suppressor gene. Because the DNA extracted from specific aberrant bands from different samples always give rise to the same nucleotide sequence upon sequencing analysis, the SSCP technique can be used as a diagnostic tool to identify the presence of such genetic alterations without having to spend time on further sequencing analysis.