Pancreatic cancer: soon an early diagnosis via the fecal microbiota?
Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer in the world1 and is particularly feared because of its very low survival rate (9% at 5 years)1. This is due to a lack of markers for early diagnosis of the disease. Fortunately, research is progressing and the fecal microbiota could be a vector of hope in this field.
About this article
A team of researchers recently investigated the link between fecal and salivary microbiota and the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PD), the most common form of pancreatic cancer.
9% This is the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer
To do this, 2 cohorts of patients (136 Spanish patients and 76 German patients) were recruited and their saliva, stool and pancreatic tissue samples (tumor or healthy) were collected in order to perform analyses on the bacterial species that compose them.
Fecal microbiota, a new ally in pancreatic cancer detection?
While the salivary analyses did not provide much information, the analysis of the fecal microbiota proved to be particularly instructive and... hopeful. Indeed, 27 disease-specific bacterial species were identified and led to the construction of a statistical model for the identification of pancreatic cancer patients, regardless of the severity of their disease. The accuracy of detection was further enhanced by combining this model with the use of an existing marker used in pancreatic cancer (CA 19-9 carbohydrate antigen), but with low sensitivity and specificity.)
The gut microbiota
The researchers then confirmed their detection model on the second cohort of 76 German patients, as well as on 5792 patients from 18 different countries suffering from various pathologies (PA, obesity, diabetes, colorectal cancer...): in both cases, the signatures of the intestinal microbiota specific to PA are accurately detected.
These results are very encouraging, and could lead to earlier and more accurate detection of pancreatic cancer, using diagnostic methods based on both patient stool analysis and existing biomarkers. By opening up new diagnostic and treatment possibilities, this scientific breakthrough will improve the prognosis for patients.
1 Rawla P, Sunkara T, Gaduputi V. Epidemiology of Pancreatic Cancer: Global Trends, Etiology and Risk Factors. World J Oncol. 2019 Feb;10(1):10-27
2 Kartal E, Schmidt TSB, Molina-Montes E, et al. A faecal microbiota signature with high specificity for pancreatic cancer. Gut. 2022 Mar 8:gutjnl-2021-324755