TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese and US universities have jointly developed a medical technique that can quickly detect various cancers using a simple saliva test, researchers said on Tuesday.

Japan's Keio University and University of California, Los Angeles, have developed the technology with which they detected high probabilities of pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and oral cancer.

The researchers analysed saliva samples of 215 people, including cancer patients, and identified 54 substances whose presence can be used to detect the disease, Keio University said in a statement released Monday.

By further analysing the substances, the test detected 99 percent of pancreatic cancer cases, 95 percent of breast cancer and 80 percent of oral cancer cases among those taking part, it said.

The cancer test using the technology would take half a day at the longest, the researchers said.

The new technology can detect up to 500 different substances found in saliva at one time, said professor Tomoyoshi Soga at Keio's Institute for Advanced Biosciences.

He said the technology would make it especially easier to detect pancreatic and oral cancers.

"The survival rates of pancreatic cancer and oral cancer are especially low, because they don't show clear symptoms in early stages, which often delays spotting of the illness," the statement said.

"Saliva can be sampled more easily and casually than blood or stool inspection," said institute head Masaru Tomita in the statement.

"We would like to apply this technology not only to cancer cases but also other illnesses as well," he said.