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Oral Rinse Might Alert Doctors to Stomach Cancers

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on May 10, 2024.

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 10, 2024 -- A quick swish at the doctor’s office could someday provide early detection of stomach cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, a new study reports.

Researcher found distinct differences in bacteria samples taken from the mouths of people with stomach cancer or pre-cancerous stomach conditions, compared with samples from healthy patients.

A simple oral rinse could pick up those bacteria as part of a quick and easy cancer screening, researchers will argue May 20 during a presentation at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We see that the oral microbiome and the stomach microbiome are connected, and knowing what bugs are in your mouth tells us what the stomach environment is like,” researcher Dr. Shruthi Reddy Perati, a general surgery resident at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, said in a news release. “That has a huge implication that could lead to some practice-changing tests and guidelines.”

For the study, researchers compared samples from 30 people diagnosed with stomach cancer, 30 people with conditions that increase risk of stomach cancer and a control group of 38 healthy patients.

Significantly, researchers found little difference in the mouth bacteria of people with full-blown stomach cancer and those with pre-cancerous stomach conditions.

That suggests changes in a person’s microbiome might occur as soon as a person’s stomach starts to undergo changes that can eventually turn into cancer, researchers said.

If that’s true, then an oral rinse test could give doctors and patients the opportunity to head off stomach cancer before it occurs.

“In the cancer world, if you find patients after they've developed cancer, it's a little too late,” Perati said. “The ideal time to try to prevent cancer is when it’s just about to turn into cancer. We were able to identify people who had pre-cancerous conditions. As a screening and prevention tool, this has enormous potential.”

Based on the results, researchers developed a model highlighting 13 bacteria species that represent the most significant differences between healthy people and those on the road to stomach cancer.

“No formal screening guidelines for gastric cancer are available in the United States, and more than half of patients with gastric cancer receive a diagnosis when the cancer is already at an advanced stage,” Perati said.

To validate these findings, researchers plan to conduct larger studies at multiple hospitals.

Because these findings are to be presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.


  • Digestive Disease Week, news release, May 9, 2024

Disclaimer: Statistical data in medical articles provide general trends and do not pertain to individuals. Individual factors can vary greatly. Always seek personalized medical advice for individual healthcare decisions.

© 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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