Oral rinse may screen for early gastric cancer


Since oral bacteria may indicate gastric cancer risk, using a simple oral rinse could offer an early means of detecting it, according to a study set to be presented at Digestive Disease Week on May 20.

Few differences were observed in the oral microbiomes of patients with premalignant conditions compared to those with cancer, implying that microbiome changes may happen early in the stomach environment's progression toward cancer, according to a press release dated May 9.

"We see that the oral microbiome and the stomach microbiome are connected, and knowing what bugs are in your mouth tells us what the stomach environment is like," Dr. Shruthi Reddy Perati, author and general surgery resident at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, said in the release.

In the study, researchers examined bacteria samples from the mouths of 98 patients preparing for endoscopy. This group included 30 individuals with gastric cancer, 30 with precancerous gastric conditions, and 38 healthy individuals for comparison. They discovered clear disparities in the oral microbiomes between the healthy group and those with cancer or precancerous conditions.

Interestingly, they observed minimal variation between samples from patients with precancerous conditions and those with cancer, suggesting that changes in the microbiome might occur early in the stomach's transformation toward cancer. Therefore, oral bacteria alone may serve as biomarkers for assessing the risk of gastric cancer, according to the release.

Based on these discoveries, the researchers developed a model focusing on 13 bacterial genera that exhibited the most significant variances between the healthy controls and patients with cancer or precancerous conditions. They intend to conduct larger studies across multiple institutions to ensure that their findings apply to a broader population, according to the release.

"We were able to identify people who had pre-cancerous conditions," Perati said. "As a screening and prevention tool, this has enormous potential."

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