Dr. Michael Choti, a professor of surgery and oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, described the UCLA team's work as "interesting," but cautioned that more follow-up is needed.
"We're not at the point where people should go and get saliva swabs," he said. "And it's not clear whether there's anything causative here. It's way too early to know that.
"But clearly there's a lot of interest now in trying to develop ways to detect early stage pancreatic cancer," Choti added. "And there is precedent for this approach with other types of malignancies. What we don't yet know, however, is whether these changes in bacteria occur early enough in the development of cancer to be a useful tool for early detection. It's possible the changes occur later in the course of disease, in which case not only would it not be causative but it would not help at getting to an early diagnosis."
"But the work is certainly promising," he said. "And worthy of further research."
To learn about pancreatic cancer, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: James J. Farrell, M.D., associate professor, UCLA Center for Pancreatic Diseases, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles; Michael Choti, M.D., professor, surgery, oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; 2011, Gut, online
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