-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Analyzing the
composition of people's collection of gut bacteria -- also called
the gut microbiome -- can help improve identification of those who
are at risk for, or already have, colon cancer, according to a new
Researchers collected stool samples from 30 healthy people, 30
people with precancerous intestinal polyps and 30 people with
advanced colon or rectal cancer in order to assess the composition
of their gut microbiomes.
Each group had a different gut microbiome composition, according
to the study published Aug. 7 in
Cancer Prevention Research.
"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," study author Patrick Schloss, associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, said in a journal news release.
Adding analysis of gut microbiomes to assessment of age and race
-- known risk factors for precancerous polyps -- led to a 4.5-fold
improved prediction of precancerous polyps, the investigators
found. Adding analysis of gut microbiomes to assessment of age,
race and body mass index -- known risk factors for invasive
colorectal cancer -- led to more than a fivefold improved
prediction of the disease.
The researchers also found that analysis of gut microbiomes was
better than fecal occult blood testing (a type of stool sample
test) at distinguishing people with precancerous polyps from those
with invasive cancer.
Assessing body mass index (a measurement based on height and
weight), fecal occult blood test results and gut microbiomes
together was even more effective at distinguishing patients with
precancerous polyps from those with invasive colon and rectal
cancer, the study revealed.
"Our data show that gut microbiome analysis has the potential to be a new tool to noninvasively screen for colorectal cancer," Schloss said. "We don't think that this would ever replace other colorectal cancer screening approaches, rather we see it as complementary."
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
colorectal cancer screening.
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