The presence of certain types of bacteria in the mouth could potentially be an indicator of pancreatic cancer in its early stages, according to study results presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
“Our results suggest the presence of a consistently distinct microbial profile for pancreatic cancer,” Pedro Torres, a graduate student at San Diego State University, said in a press release. “We may be able to detect pancreatic cancer at its early stages by taking individuals’ saliva and looking at the ratios of these bacteria.”
According to the researchers, data from recent studies have suggested that oral microbiota may be indicative of pancreatic disease, but it is unknown if specific species are indicators of disease. Torres and colleagues analyzed the oral microbiota of patients with pancreatic cancer and compared it with the oral microbiota of patients with other digestive cancers and diseases.
To date, the researchers have enrolled 131 patients receiving treatment at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center. The patients provided saliva and buccal swabs, as well as information about ethnicity, oral hygiene and tobacco use. Fourteen patients have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, 13 with pancreatic disease and 22 with other cancers. Ten were non-disease controls.
After analyzing the salivary microbial diversity profiles, the researchers found that the patients with pancreatic cancer had a unique community profile compared with the other groups. The levels of Campylobacter and Leptotrichia were significantly higher, whereas the levels of Streptococcus, Treponema and Veillonella were significantly lower.
“Ratios of particular types of bacteria found in saliva may be indicative of pancreatic cancer,” Torres said. “The presence of a consistently distinct microbial profile for pancreatic cancer may be useful in the future as a biomarker of the disease.”
For more information:
Torres P. #599. Presented at: 2014 Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology; May 17-20; Boston.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.