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OralCheck: Early Detection of Oral Cancer

Team Members:
  • Manjima Dhar
  • Yun-An Chen
  • Alex Dakos
  • W. James Melvin
  • Justine Yu
  • Jennifer Zheng
  • Tony Wu
  • Elliott Schwartz, DDS


Oral cancer has a 45% fatality rate within five years of diagnosis. This high fatality rate is due to late stage detection. The symptoms of oral cancer are lesions in the oral cavity. However these symptoms are not unique to oral cancer, therefore clinicians cannot easily distinguish cancerous lesions by visible inspection.

To help screen for oral cancer, we have designed and prototyped OralCheck: a portable cell analyzer. OralCheck has two components: a brush for sample collection from the mouth and a microfluidic chip for analysis. The brush is able to collect cells from the lower levels of the oral cavity epithelium where cancer arises. A syringe is attached to the inlet to allow easy sample insertion. The microfluidic analyzer uses electric fields to sort the cancer cells from benign cells into separate compartments. The sorted cells will react with a chemical to give a color change that is visible to the naked eye. A positive result will show two visible dots (one in each well), and a negative result will show only one. OralCheck gives the dentist a quick and easy way to check for cancer cells in any suspicious lesion.

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