A recent research has revealed that gut bacteria, also called gut microbiome, can assist doctors in predicting a person's colon cancer risk.
Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, affects the rectum or colon of an individual. Thousands of people across the world suffer from colon cancer and reports suggest that it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. In the U.S., colon cancer is also the second leading cause of death due to cancer in both men and women.
According to the American Cancer Society more than 136,000 people will be diagnosed and over 50,000 are estimated to die due to colon cancer in the U.S. during 2014.
Patrick D. Schloss, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who is also the study author, says that there is a huge quantity of bacteria present in the gut of a person, which is also more than the number of cells in the body. The diversity of bacteria in the gut is also critical to a person's health. Schloss reveals that by sequencing "V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene" researchers can identify bacteria in a person's gut microbiome.
The researchers examined stool samples of 90 people: 30 people were healthy, 30 people suffered from precancerous intestinal polyps and 30 people were patients with invasive colorectal cancer. Schloss claims that the findings revealed that the gut microbiome composition differed in all the groups.
The scientists say that analyzing the findings with other risk factors of precancerous polyps, such as race, body mass and age, they were able to predict the disease better.
"We found that the composition of the gut microbiome allowed us to identify who in our study had precancerous adenomatous polyps and who had invasive colorectal cancer," says Schloss. "If our results are confirmed in larger groups of people, adding gut microbiome analysis to other fecal tests may provide an improved, noninvasive way to screen for colorectal cancer."
Schloss added that the research did not involve only microbiologists. The study also involved skilled researchers in the field of epidemiology, statistics and genomics.
The researchers suggest that the finding of the research is important and analysis of gut microbiome can potentially be used as tool to non-invasively screen for colon cancer.