Researchers found that Fusobacterium nucleatum was found in pancreatic cancer tissue and that the tumor Fusobacterium species was significantly associated with a worse prognosis for pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, killing 94% of its victims within 5 years of diagnosis. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
F. nucleatum has already been shown to play a significant role in the pathogenesis and increased mortality risk of colorectal cancers. It is one of several pathogens of oral origin that substantially impact overall health by altering the body’s immune response, often working in conjunction with other pathogens to do so.
Previous studies have linked both clinical periodontal disease and the oral microbiome to risk for pancreatic cancer. Men with gum disease have a 54% increased risk of developing the disease. P. gingivalis, another oral pathogen, has likewise been implicated in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer, and many researchers have suggested that salivary diagnostic technology be used for early detection and assessing prognosis for this often-fatal disease.
Researchers are not yet certain exactly what role F. nucleatum plays in the carcinogenesis of pancreatic cancer, but this research builds upon what is already suspected about using microbial burden as a biomarker for cancers throughout the body. Continued research in this area will help us learn more about the oral microbiome’s role in the pathogenesis of this deadly disease.