Pancreatic Cancer Could Be Detected By Oral Bacteria Samples
Pancreatic cancer might be detected by analysis of the bacteria in a patient's mouth, a new UCLA study suggests.
"The problem with pancreatic cancer is that the vast majority of patients present at a very late stage," said Dr. James J. Farrell, an associate professor with the UCLA Center for Pancreatic Diseases. "Only about 15 percent are diagnosed at a point where they're eligible to have surgery. So for most the only option is chemotherapy, which has a very poor response rate. So, there's a dire need for early detection. And this work could, down the road, lead to a noninvasive and widely applicable way to get just that."
Farrell's team noticed that the presence or absence of specific bacteria--Granulicatella adjacens--seems to indicate a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, but they said more research is needed to determine whether that difference is caused by the cancer, or vice versa.
Pancreatic cancer, the disease Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of last week, is the fourth-deadliest in the U.S. and has a five-year survival rate of just 5 percent.
In the study, researchers compared saliva content of 10 cancer patients whose disease had not spread, with that of 10 healthy people. They found 31 species of bacteria in the cancer patients not present in the healthy mouths. Cancer patients lacked 25 other species found in the other patients.