Posted on Jan 29, 2019, 6 p.m.
Differences in abundance of various types of bacteria living on the tongue can distinguish patients with early pancreatic cancer from healthy individuals according to a paper published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology from professor Lanjuian Li, MD and colleagues at Zhejiang University School of Medicine.
Results add to growing evidence of an association, if the association between discriminatory bacteria and pancreatic cancer is confirmed in larger studies it could lead to development of microbiome based early diagnostic or preventive tools says Lanjuian.
Approximately 10,000 patients are diagnosed with the disease yearly in the UK alone, pancreatic cancer is the 7th highest cause of death from cancer around the world, with a 10 year survival rate being very low at less than 1%. Early diagnosis could improve likelihood of treatment and boost survival rate. Many potential biomarkers in blood and tissue have been reported, but only early detect biomarkers have clinical value in terms of prevention and identification of high risk groups, according to the researchers.
Patients with pancreatic cancer have been shown to have different saliva, duodenal mucosa, and fecal microbiota when compared to controls, but the characteristics of the tongue coating of microbiota of pancreatic cancer patients have not been clearly defined. Prior studies indicate the tongue microbiome harbor two bacterial genera that could be used to distinguish liver cancer patients from controls: Fusobacterium and Oribacterium.
Bacterial DNA sequencing technology was used to analyze and compare tongue coating microbiomes of 55 drug free subjects between the ages of 45-65 with no other health problems; 30 were patients with early stage pancreatic head carcinoma, and 25 healthy controls. Results strongly suggest abundance of four bacteria types could distinguish between controls and those with pancreatic cancer. High levels of Fusobacterium and Leptotrichia and lows of Porphyromonas and Haemophilus in the tongue coat microbiota were the most striking differences observed between the groups of controls and patients.
The immune system may represent a link between changes in the microbiome associated with pancreatic cancer that for example impact growth of particular bacteria or vice versa. As such the researchers purpose such microbiota may provide substrates that can stimulate or influence inflammatory processes in the pancreas, which if confirmed in larger studies may path the way to development of strategies to harness antibiotics, immunotherapeutics, or probiotics to help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer in high risk individuals, and early diagnostic or preventive tools for PHC.
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