Swedish Study Finds Oral Bacteria In Aggressive Pancreatic Tumors

img AD Ratings imgMarch 29, 2019




Every patient suspected to have pancreatic cancer has to suffer through at least one surgery to detect whether the tumor is malignant or benign. However, if pancreatic cancer detection were made simpler—like finding a link between oral bacteria and cancerous tumors—this process would become more straightforward. The good news is that scientists have linked certain oral bacterial presence to aggressive and intrusive pancreatic cancer cysts.

Tumors are formed on account of abnormal cell multiplication and growth, which is triggered due to many reasons. They present themselves as lumps, which when biopsied are found to either be benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). One such cancer is pancreatic cancer.

According to the scientific findings of researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, oral bacterial presence and the severity of cystic pancreatic tumors are directly linked. The research report published in the journal ‘Gut reports’ aimed to improve the diagnostic procedure of pancreatic cancer detection thereby affect the prescribed treatment.

Late Detection Is A Major Issue in Pancreatic Cancer

Currently, 56,770 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States alone, 45,750 of which are expected to die before 2020 steps in, mostly because the disease detection is often late. The prospect of survival goes down drastically for patients as cancer detection takes too long. Usually, the cystic pancreatic tumors or pancreatic cysts are harmless or benign. Sometimes, these cysts become malignant or cancerous.

Oncologists have to currently make a patient undergo at least one surgery in which they biopsy the tumor and determine whether it is harmless or cancerous. The slow detection process not only makes the process strenuous for the patients but also stresses the healthcare system.

However, with the findings from the Karolinska Institutet, the cancer detection process can be simplified. As the corresponding author of the report, Margaret Sällberg Chen states, “We find most bacteria at the stage where the cysts are starting to show signs of cancer. What we hope is that this can be used as a biomarker for the early identification of the cancerous cysts that need to be surgically removed to cure cancer, this will in turn also reduce the amount of unnecessary surgery of benignant tumors. But first, studies will be needed to corroborate our findings,” reported the website Science Daily.

Bacterial DNA and pancreatic cysts

The researchers analyzed 105 pancreatic cancer patients and their pancreatic cystic fluid secretions. They also determined what bacterial DNA was present in which type and stage of the pancreatic cysts. All the data was compiled, and it was inferred that the highly malignant cysts and tumors that displayed higher dysplasia had more bacterial DNA than harmless or benign cysts.

Scientists then sequenced the bacterial DNA of 35 highly concentrated samples to determine the common bacteria present in the cysts. They discovered apparent variations in the bacterial composition of different participants and also noticed more substantial oral bacterial presence in tumors that displayed higher dysplasia and cancer. “We were surprised to find oral bacteria in the pancreas, but it wasn’t totally unexpected. The bacteria we identified have already been shown in an earlier, smaller study to be higher in the saliva of patients with pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Sällberg Chen.

The researchers contemplated on all the factors that could have affected the bacterial count in the tumor fluid. According to their findings, patients who underwent an invasive pancreatic endoscopy, which involves a flexible tube’s insertion into the mouth to visually examine the pancreas, showed higher bacterial DNA—possibly due to the direct transference of oral bacteria into the pancreas.

This study, which was a collaboration of researchers from Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, and the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and Science for Life Laboratory might help evaluate how bacteria can impact pancreatic cyst maturation. A few more similar studies would enable the development of real antibacterial therapeutic strategies to diagnose aggressive tumors.

Dr. Chen concludes, “The results were not completely unequivocal, so the endoscopy can’t be the whole answer to why the bacteria is there. But maybe we can reduce the risk of transferring oral bacteria to the pancreas by rinsing the mouth with an antibacterial agent and ensuring good oral hygiene prior to examination. That would be an interesting clinical study.”

 

 

 

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