Microbiomes of Urine and the Prostate Are Linked to Human Prostate Cancer Risk Groups


New paper published today titled "Microbiomes of Urine and the Prostate Are Linked to Human Prostate Cancer Risk Groups" in European Urology Oncology. 

Papers are coming like buses this week. Delighted that after nine years of work our paper looking at the link between bacteria and aggressive prostate cancer is out. This is exciting stuff.


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. We wanted to find out whether bacteria could be linked to the way prostate cancer grows and spreads.

We analysed urine or tissue samples from more than 600 patients with or without prostate cancer. And we developed methods of finding the bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer. We found several types of bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer, some of which are new types of bacteria never found before. The set of bacteria found include Anaerococcus, Peptoniphilus, Porphyromonas, Fenollaria and Fusobacterium. All of these are anaerobic, which means they like to grow without oxygen present.

When any of these specific anaerobic bacteria were detected in the patient’s samples, it was linked to the presence of higher grades of prostate cancer and more rapid progression to aggressive disease. We also identified potential biological mechanisms of how these bacteria may be linked to cancer. Among the things we don’t yet know is how people pick up these bacteria, whether they are causing the cancer, or whether a poor immune response permits the growth of the bacteria. But we hope that our findings and future work could lead to new treatment options, that could slow or prevent aggressive prostate cancer from developing. Our work could also lay the foundations for new tests that use bacteria to predict the most effective treatment for each man’s cancer.

Amazing collaboration between Norwich Medical School UEA, Quadram Institute, the NNUH and others. It was funded by the by Prostate Cancer UK and The Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

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