Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men worldwide, and sadly the disease takes thousands of lives every year. However, a team of researchers led by the University of East Anglia may have a potential solution.
The scientists performed sophisticated genetic analyses on the urine and prostate tissue of over 600 men with and without prostate cancer, and through this study identified five bacteria (three of which are completely new to science) connected to aggressive prostate cancer, the most deadly form of this disease.
The role of bacteria
If further studies can determine the role that these specific bacteria play in the development of prostate cancer, they could potentially treat and prevent it from claiming countless lives in the future.
“This is an exciting discovery that has the potential to truly revolutionize treatment for men,” declared Dr. Hayley Luxton of Prostate Cancer UK, which co-funded the research.
The study, which was published in European Urology Oncology, details how men whose urine, prorate, or tumor tissue had one or more of the bacteria were 2.6 times more likely to have their early-stage cancer advance into more aggressive forms of the disease than men who did not.
The researchers are still uncertain if the bacteria are directly involved with the disease, as they could also point to immune system deficiencies that create environments where certain bacteria can flourish. That said, the researchers believe that the relationship between the bacteria and prostate cancer could be similar to Helicobacter pylori infections and the increased risk of stomach cancer.
Cancer geneticist involved in the study at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, Prof. Rosalind Eeles, says that they might be able to prove whether the bacteria are causative by looking “to see if these organisms are never found in prostate samples which have no cancer.”
So far, researchers have already collected genetic information on the microbes that allow them to imagine how they might behave in the body, including what toxins and other substances they would release. This information contributes to the half a dozen hypotheses around how the bacteria could cause prostate cancer directly.
“If the team can demonstrate that these newly identified bacteria can not only predict, but actually cause aggressive prostate cancer, for the first time we may actually be able to prevent prostate cancer occurring,” adds Luxton. “This would be a huge breakthrough that could save thousands of lives each year.”
Source study: European Urology Oncology—Microbiomes of urine and the prostate are linked to human prostate cancer risk groups