Researchers have identified five types of bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer, and they say their findings could lead to new treatments for the disease.
The five types of bacteria were common in urine and tissue samples from men with aggressive prostate cancer, according to the team at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom.
All of the bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they can grow without oxygen present, the researchers report.
The link between bacteria and cancer
For the study, the investigators analyzed urine or tissue samples from more than 600 patients with or without prostate cancer.
“We already know of some strong associations between infections and cancer. For example, the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the digestive tract can lead to stomach ulcers and is associated with stomach cancer, and some types of the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer,” project leader Colin Cooper, a professor at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said in a university news release.
“We wanted to find out whether bacteria could be linked to the way prostate cancer grows and spreads,” Cooper explains.
Prostate cancer is more commonly a disease men die with rather than from, according to co-author Jeremy Clark, of Norwich Medical School.
“And little is known about what causes some prostate cancers to become more aggressive than others. We now have evidence that certain bacteria are involved in this and are part of the puzzle,” Clark adds.
Along with pinpointing the five types of bacteria, the researchers also identified potential biological mechanisms of how these bacteria may be linked to cancer.
The study found that men who had one or more of the species in their urine, prostate or tumor tissue were 2.6 times more likely to see their early-stage cancer progress to advanced disease than men who did not.
Lead scientist Colin Cooper, a professor of cancer genetics at the University of East Anglia, says it’s possible the bacteria may not be involved in the disease. Men with more aggressive prostate cancer may have immune system deficiencies that allow