The development of pancreatic cancer could be linked to poor oral health according to a study published in the journal Gut. The researchers suggest these results could help professionals find new treatments for pancreatic cancer, which could be revolutionary as this type of cancer spreads fast with only one in twenty patients surviving longer than five years.
These treatments would involve altering the balance of bacteria within the mouth.
The researchers compared the bacteria found in the saliva of two separate groups of people, each matched for age and sex. One group consisted of 10 pancreatic cancer patients, while the other group consisted of 10 healthy people. An additional 28 new participants were also studied to confirm results.
The results reflected a substantial variation of bacteria colonies between the two groups. The group with pancreatic cancer had 31 additional species of some bacteria as well as 25 fewer species of other bacteria in their saliva when compared to the healthy group.
The researchers also explored chronic inflammation of the pancreas. They examined inflamed tissue because of its link to the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. They discovered that two species of bacteria — Neisseria elongata and Streptococcus mitis —appeared less often in the saliva of the cancer patients, while another species —Granulicatella adiacens — was significantly higher.
To say the presence and lack of bacteria specifically causes pancreatic cancer would be a stretch, but the study done by these researchers suggests that bacteria do impact the development of pancreatic diseases. Monitoring the levels of these bacteria could be useful for professionals as an early detection tool for a disease that has no definitive symptoms in its beginning stages.