In a recent study, researchers have developed a new tongue test to detect pancreatic cancer early.
The new finding could help improve diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Nearly 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year, and less than 1% could survive beyond ten years.
Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer could greatly improve the chances of successful treatment.
But this is hard for this disease because it grows deep inside the body and often shows few symptoms before it has already spread.
Therefore, most patients already have advanced pancreatic cancer by the time they seek medical help.
In the new study, the team found differences in the abundance of certain bacteria living on the tongue can distinguish patients with early pancreatic cancers from healthy individuals
This is the first evidence of changes to the bacteria in the tongue coating.
The team examined a group of 30 patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer and a similar group of 25 healthy people.
Participants were all between 45 and 65 years in age, had no other diseases or oral health problems and had not taken any antibiotics or other drugs for the three months before the study.
The team used sophisticated gene sequencing technologies to examine the microbiome diversity of tongue coat samples.
They found that pancreatic cancer patients were colonized by very different tongue coating microbiomes compared to healthy individuals.
More importantly, the abundance of four types of bacteria could distinguish pancreatic cancer patients from healthy individuals.
The research team explains that the immune system may link between any confirmed shifts in the microbiome with pancreatic cancer.
One possibility is that disease development in the pancreas may influence the immune response in ways that favor the growth of certain bacteria—or vice versa.
The team suggests that if confirmed in larger studies, this study could pave the way towards the development of life-saving early detection or prevention tools for pancreatic cancer.
Now they are searching for biological changes that can accurately detect early signs of pancreatic cancer, which could be developed into new screening tests.
The findings are published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology.
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