Why This Matters
Although it is becoming clear that the gut microbiome can influence radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy outcomes, its influence in head and neck cancer has not been previously reported.
The findings begin to define the role of gut microbiota in HNC and, if confirmed, identify microbial populations suitable for probiotic preconditioning to optimize radiation outcomes.
The team analyzed the microbial composition of stool samples from 20 patients with HNC before radiation therapy and correlated the results with oral mucositis severity and tumor recurrence.
About half of patients developed grade 3-4 oral mucositis.
Six pro-inflammatory bacterial genera were enriched in patients with severe oral mucositis, with Eubacterium, Victivallis, and Ruminococcus most significantly increased.
Of 17 patients analyzed, tumors recurred in three (18%); these patients had cancers of the oropharynx, nasal cavity, or salivary glands.
Patients who did not have recurrence had a significantly higher abundance of Faecalibacterium, Prevotella, and Phascolarctobacterium, three genera that have previously been linked to better immunotherapy outcomes in patients with melanoma and non–small cell lung cancer.
This was a small study with substantial differences between patients, including differences in tumor sites and treatments.
The study was supported by the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The investigators had no disclosures.
This is a summary of a preprint research study, "Baseline Gut Microbiota Composition Is Associated With Oral Mucositis and Tumor Recurrence in Patients With Head And Neck Cancer: A Pilot Study," led by Ghanyah Al-Qadami of the University of Adelaide, provided to you by Medscape. The study has not been peer reviewed. The full text can be found at researchsquare.com.
M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master's degree in medical science and a journalism degree from Newhouse. He is an award-winning medical journalist who has worked for several major news outlets before joining Medscape and also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: email@example.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cite this: Gut Microbiome Tied to Radiation Therapy Outcomes in HNC - Medscape - Aug 12, 2022.