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Antibodies to a high-risk type of a virus that causes mouth and throat cancers when transmitted via oral sex can be detected in blood tests many years before onset of the disease, according to a World Health Organisation-led team of researchers. In a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers said their findings may in future lead to people being screened for human papillomavirus (HPV) antibodies, giving doctors a chance to find those at high risk of oral cancers. “Up to now, it was not known whether these antibodies were present in blood before the cancer became clinically detectable," said Paul Brennan, of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), who led the study and described the findings as “very encouraging".