Pancreatic Cancer Survival Linked To Tumor Microbiome


Studies being conducted at Texas University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, revealed that there is a high distinctiveness between the pancreatic cancer patients who survive for the long term and patients who survive for the short term. The prime difference is due to the variation of bacteria living in the tumors of each patient.

The study also showed that by transplanting the stool samples also referred to as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) from the long-term human survivors (LTS) of a pancreatic cancer patient into a mouse, changes the tumor bacteria of it. This change results in the reduction of pancreatic cancer. 

Going Deeper

The findings directed towards the curative aspect of pancreatic cancer by targeting the tumor microbiome. Lead researcher of the MD Cancer Center, Florencia McAllister said that the results from the FMT show a cure by altering the tumor immune microenvironment. This looks promising, but further studies need to be done, said McAllister with her colleagues.

Most patients have had already progressed to the late stage of this disease by the time they get diagnosed, and the likely course of medical action becomes useless as the disease has done most of its job. By exerting a controlling influence on the gut and tumor microbiome, it could present an ideal strategy to cause the tumors to react in the treatment.

To look at the situation more deeply, the statistics show that the long-term survivors of pancreatic cancer lived more than five years after surgery (average of 10.1 years after the surgery). But the short-term survivors of pancreatic cancer lived within the five years after surgery (average 1.6 years after surgery). Hence LTS patients lived comparatively much longer than STS patients.

Those who had a higher diversity of the tumor microbiome tend to live much longer, as their median survival was 9.66 years. Those who had comparatively less diversity had a median of 1.66 years.

The presence of the three classes of bacteria, namely: Pseudoxanthomonas, Saccharropolyspora, and Streptomyces bacteria along with the species of Bacillus clausii, had resulted in a much better patient outcome. These types of bacteria were only found in LTS patients; that is why they produced better results. To further explore this idea, researchers had transplanted the fecal bacteria from advanced pancreatic human cancer patients into a mouse. After conducting a thorough study and research, McAllister said that they can now completely change the bacterial makeup of the tumor bacteria by initiating FMT.


This shows the first report to know the influence of tumor bacteria at a clinical level. What resulted in the success of this process was the diversification of the tumor microbiome. This diversity has a strong effect on ensuring the survival of the PDAC (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) patients. In the end, the tumor bacteria are the core reason which represents an alternative and safe medical course of action. By manipulating the microbiome, the life expectancy of PDAC patients is enhanced.

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