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Oral Bacteria Might Signal Early Pancreatic Cancer
Date:10/13/2011

explore a possible oral connection to pancreatic cancer by comparing the saliva content of 10 cancer patients -- whose disease had not spread -- with that of 10 healthy individuals of similar age and gender.

The oral cavity hosts upward of 700 different species of bacteria, some of which are linked to periodontitis, a bacteria-driven inflammatory disease.

The cancer patients carried 31 species of bacteria not present in the mouths of the healthy participants. At the same time, those with cancer lacked 25 other species that were present among the disease-free pool.

A second oral comparison was made between 28 cancer patients, 27 patients with chronic pancreatitis (thereby at high risk for cancer), and 28 healthy individuals.

The result: Two bacterial species --Neisseria elongata and Streptococcus mitis -- were much more likely to be found in the mouths of healthy people than those with cancer. Scanning for levels of these two bacteria enabled the research team to accurately distinguish between cancer patients and healthy participants more than three-quarters of the time (80 percent).

In reverse, levels of another species -- Granulicatella adjacens -- were higher among those with disease.

Differences in bacterial composition also existed among patients with chronic pancreatitis, relative to healthy people.

"Although any advance in the arena of early detection is important, what is perhaps more important is the idea that oral floral changes are part of the cause of pancreatic cancer," Farrell said. "And although we don't yet know, in fact most of the pieces of data already out there looking at oral hygiene -- mostly with respect to cardiac disease -- would suggest that the interplay between oral bacteria and our cells can lead to disease.

"And this idea opens up a whole new arena for exploration," he added. "Because it would mean, in theory, that we could have a whole new target for cancer interventi
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