Objective: To analyze the presence of malignancy associated changes (MACs) in normal buccal mucosa cells of lung and breast cancer patients and their relationship to tumor subtype, stage and size.
Study design: Buccal mucosa smears of 107 lung cancer and 100 breast cancer patients and corresponding healthy subjects were collected, stained by the DNA-specific Feulgen-thionin method and scanned using an automated high-resolution cytometer. Nuclear texture features of a minimum of 500 nuclei per slide were calculated, and statistical classifiers using Gaussian models of class-probability distribution were designed, trained and tested in 3 parts: (1) ability to separate cancer patient samples from controls, (2) cross-validation of classifiers for different cancer types, and (3) correlation of MAC expression with tumor subtype, stage and size.
Results: Lung and breast cancer induce MACs in normal buccal mucosa cells. The classifiers based on the selected nuclear features correctly recognized >80% of lung and breast cancer cases. The results indicate that MAC detection is not dependent on the tumor subtype, stage or size.
Conclusion: The presence of MACs in buccal mucosa cells offers the potential for developing a new noninvasive cancer screening test.