Bacteria Associated With Pancreatic Cancer

Each year, approximately 40,000 Americans die of cancer of the pancreas, making pancreatic cancer (PC) the fourth most common cancer. It is estimated to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States by 2020. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most rapidly fatal diseases, with fewer than half of patients surviving past 6 months from diagnosis. While surgery offers the only hope of 5-year survival in PC, fewer than 20% of patients are eligible for surgery, as the disease is already at an advanced stage at diagnosis. Detection of pancreatic cancer at early stages could increase survival. Therefore, prevention of pancreatic cancer is very important. Periodontal disease might increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. Inflammation is a risk factor for and as a consequence of the cancer. Patients with hereditary autoimmune pancreatitis have an estimated lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer development of 40% 4, while patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis carry a 13-fold higher risk.

The human oral cavity harbors a complex microbial community (microbiome) known to contain over 700 species of bacteria, more than half of which have not been cultivated. Researchers have identified a core microbial community in healthy individuals and shifts from this core microbiome have been associated with dental carries and periodontitis. Increases in the numbers of Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli in saliva have been associated with oral disease, while high salivary counts of Capnocytophaga gingivalis, Prevotella melaninogenica and Streptococcus mitis may be indicative of and other types of cancer.

Salivary microbial communities of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are distinguishable from salivary microbial communities of healthy patients, therefore, specific salivary bacteria could be used as biomarkers for early-stage pancreatic cancer. Researchers observed decreased levels of Neisseria elongata and Streptococcus mitis in patients with pancreatic cancer compared with healthy individuals. Antibodies to four periodontal pathogens (Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia, Granulicatella adiacens and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans) are directly associated with pancreatic cancer. The highest concentration of P. gingivalis has been associated with a two fold increase risk of pancreatic cancer and the progression of atherosclerosis.

Fusobacterium nucleatum

Recently, bacterial toxins from oral bacteria have been linked to colon cancer.


  1. Plasma antibodies to oral bacteria and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large European prospective cohort study. Dominique S. Michaud et al.
  2. Roles of Commensal Microbiota in Pancreas Homeostasis and Pancreatic Pathologies. Camila Leal-Lopes et al.

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