Gut bacteria test could identify colon cancer risk

Testing gut bacteria, or gut microbiomes, could help identify people who are at risk for colon cancer, reported.

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study in which they analyzed stool samples from 30 healthy adults, 30 people with precancerous intestinal polyps and 30 people with advanced colon or rectal cancer.

By analyzing the gut microbiomes, in addition to age, race and body mass index – known risk factors for invasive colorectal cancer – researchers found more than a fivefold improved prediction of the disease.

"If our results are confirmed in larger groups of people, adding gut microbiome analysis to other fecal tests may provide an improved, non-invasive way to screen for colorectal cancer," study author Patrick Schloss, associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, said in a journal news release.

Schloss said the data shows that gut microbiome analysis has the potential to be a new tool to non-invasively screen for colorectal cancer.

The findings were published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

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