Prostate cancer: Bacteria in urine may signal aggressive forms of the disease – new study

Prostate cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye discusses symptoms

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Risk factors for prostate cancer include smoking and obesity. But a new study has shown how certain bacteria in the body could raise the risk of the disease, particularly aggressive prostate cancer.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia have found a link in urine related to aggressive prostate cancer.

Scientists say they have identified urine bacteria which is linked to the disease.

The discovery might provide new ways to spot and even prevent these dangerous tumours, experts hope.

The research group made this chance discovery that bacteria in the urine was much more common in men with aggressive or advanced prostate cancer than in those men with low risk or no cancer and will explore this further.

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The team are looking into future investigations to see if clearing the infection with antibiotics might help to prevent bad tumours in the future.

However, it’s too soon to say if the bacteria might cause the cancer, rather than just be a helpful marker.

Bacterial infections are already known to play a part in the development of other cancers – a bug called H. pylori can trigger stomach cancer, for example, and a course of antibiotics can get rid of this risk.

Recently, bacteria have been linked to cancer by two mechanisms: induction of chronic inflammation and production of carcinogenic bacterial metabolites.

In the study, which was published in the journal European Urology Oncology, researchers studied more than 600 patients with and without prostate cancer, to assess how useful the urine bacterial test was.

Five types of bacteria were identified which were common in urine and tissue samples from men whose cancers ultimately went on to be aggressive.

 

All were types of bacteria that can grow without oxygen.

To the researcher’s surprise, some were brand new types, never found until now.

Two of the new bacteria species found by the team have been named after two of the study’s funders – Porphyromonas bobii, after the The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Varibaculum prostatecancerukia, after Prostate Cancer UK.

The next step will be to investigate those strains of bacteria present in both the urine and prostate cancer samples in more detail.

This will help the researchers start to identify a mechanism by which bacterial infection could cause prostate cancer to develop.

 

Dr Rachel Hurst, one of the research team, said: “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.”

Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include:

  • Bladder and urinary troubles
  • Losing bowel control
  • Soreness in the groin
  • Leg swelling
  • Hip or back pain
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss.

It’s imperative if experiencing any of these symptoms to speak to your healthcare professional and not to ignore it.

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