Lung “Germs” Cause Cancer?

Doctor comparing two lungs x-rays of patient after his recovery

Cancer patients who specifically suffer from lung cancer, have bacteria in their airways. A new study found that the body’s “microbiome” can play a role. This refers to the bacteria and other microbes that are naturally in the body, of which there are trillions. Recent research shows that this bacteria plays a vital role in normal body functions, most importantly, the immune system.

Research shows that microbiome can play a role in the progression of a tumor as well as how likely a patient is going to be when it comes to responding to specific treatments. Immunotherapy can be used to treat a variety of cancer. This is used to boost the immune system and enhance the body’s natural capacity to fight the tumor. However, it was discovered that different immunotherapies will have a different response in patients who have different makeup in the gut microbiome.

This knowledge was expanded to be used when studying lung cancers. Instead of focusing on the gut microbiome, the lung microbes were analyzed. Dr. Segal of New York University Grossman School of Medicine said that the lungs have been ignored. He went on to say that the lungs were believed to be sterile, and that, even in healthy people, the lungs have low amounts of bacteria. This information was used to see whether or not lung bacteria played a role in a lung cancer patient’s prognosis.

After researching tissue samples from 83 patients, those who advanced cancer carried more microbes than those in the earlier stages. Their odds of survival also lowered when patients had enrichment with specific bacteria types. Since individuals vary when it comes to their microbiome makeup, genetics and immune system are going to directly affect any cancer prognosis.

They are attempting to target the microbiome and find a link between that and the likelihood of patients responding to immunotherapy.

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