Microbiota signatures specific to particular precancerous colon polyps could result in more accurate tests with lower risk.
An intriguing study by leading institutions has identified a unique microbial fingerprint in the gut of patients with precancerous colon polyps, suggesting that a non-invasive stool test could transform detection of colorectal cancers.
- The study was conducted by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
- Researchers compared stool samples and colonoscopies of 971 participants to study the gut microbiome.
- A distinct microbial fingerprint was found in those with tubular adenomas and sessile serrated adenomas, both premalignant colon lesions.
- Nineteen (19) different bacterial species were detected in patients with tubular adenomas and eight in those with sessile serrated adenomas.
- The findings hint at the potential of stool tests to reduce the number of invasive colonoscopies.
- The study also explores the possibility of using bacteria as a probiotic supplement to reduce colon cancer risk.
- Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, with rising incidences in young adults and developing countries.
- Colonoscopy, an invasive procedure, is the current gold standard for detecting colorectal cancers.
- Polyps, abnormal cell growths, are common in adults but not all turn into cancer.
- A 2018 Johns Hopkins study highlighted infection risks associated with outpatient colonoscopies.
- Current alternative tests to colonoscopy include the fecal immunochemical test, fecal occult blood tests, and stool DNA tests.
- Lifestyle changes, including diet, influence intestinal bacteria, but the exact relationship between bacteria and polyps remains unclear.
- This research underscores the potential of leveraging the gut microbiome for early detection of colorectal cancers, potentially transforming diagnostic approaches and patient outcomes.