Virginia Tech researchers say mouth bacteria may cause colon cancer to spread

Virginia Tech researchers say mouth bacteria may cause colon cancer to spread
Colon cancer screening (FILE)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Researchers at Virginia Tech have discovered that bacteria found in your mouth may be causing colon cancer to spread.

Because of poor oral hygiene, Fusobacterium nucleatum can live in your mouth just below the gum line, eventually leaving it by traveling through your bloodstream. This can cause various, rare infections of the brain, liver, lungs and heart.

But now, researchers are noticing that it also involves colorectal cancers.

“These bacteria do not cause cancer, they are attracted to tumors that are already there and when they arrive they accelerate this cancer or this process,” said Daniel Slade, an assistant professor of biochemistry.

The team’s findings were just published in the journal Science Signaling this week.

Slade said there is still a lot of research to be done on this. They still don’t understand why the bacteria is driving this cancer to be accelerated. He said Stage II and III cancers have been shown to have higher traces of the bacteria.

There are still ongoing efforts to determine the best therapy. Slade said a next step may be to determine where is best to intervene in how the bacteria travels

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