Breast Cancer May Change a Patient's Microbiome

Bacterial differences were seen between tissue from patients with and without breast cancer.

Researchers in a recent study discovered breast microbiome differences among healthy and cancerous tissue.

“Our research found that breast tissue samples obtained in the operating room under sterile conditions contain bacterial DNA, even when there is no sign of infection. Furthermore, we identified significant differences in the breast tissue microbiome of women with cancer versus women without cancer,” said researcher Tina Hieken, MD. “Our work confirmed the presence of a distinct breast tissue microbiome and that it is different than the microbiome of the overlying breast skin.”

While risk factors are established, current prediction models are not effective at identifying risks for specific women, according to a study published by Scientific Reports. Previous research has found that microbiome changes have been seen in various cancers, such as stomach, colon, liver, lung, and skin.

The current study stated that it is still unclear whether a new virulent pathogenic strain or the absence of a beneficial strain could increase cancer risk, according to the study. Researchers believe their findings could lead to further research to identify causes of breast cancer, and create new microbial-based prevention treatments.

“There is mounting evidence that changes in the breast microbiome may be implicated in cancer development and the aggressiveness of cancer and that eliminating dangerous microorganisms or restoring normal microbiota may reverse this process,” said researcher Nick Chia, PhD.