Introduction: Saliva is an ideal biofluid that can be collected in a noninvasive manner, enabling safe and frequent screening of various diseases. Recent studies have revealed that salivary metabolomics analysis has the potential to detect both oral and systemic cancers. Area covered: We reviewed the technical aspects, as well as applications, of salivary metabolomics for cancer detection. The topics include the effects of preconditioning and the method of sample collection, sample storage, processing, measurement, data analysis, and validation of the results. We also examined the rational relationship between salivary biomarkers and tumors distant from the oral cavity. A strategy to establish standard operating protocols for obtaining reproducible quantification data is also discussed Expert opinion: Salivary metabolomics reflects oral and systematic health status, which potently enables cancer detection. The sensitivity and specificity of each marker and their combinations have been well evaluated, but a validation study is required. Further, the standard operating protocol for each procedure should be established to obtain reproducible data before clinical usage.
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