Using antimicrobial adjuvant therapy in cancer treatment: a review

Infect Agent Cancer. 2012 Nov 20;7(1):33. doi: 10.1186/1750-9378-7-33.


Recent clinical and pre-clinical data demonstrate that adjuvant antimicrobial therapy is beneficial in cancer treatment. There could be several reasons for this effect, which include treating cancer associated bacteria and viruses, prophylaxis of post-chemotherapy infections due to immunosuppression, and antiproliferative effect of certain antimicrobials. Targeting cancer associated viruses and bacteria with antimicrobial agents is currently used for gastric, cervical, hematopoietic, liver and brain cancer. However this treatment is effective only in combination with conventional therapies. Antimicrobials can also have a direct antiproliferative and cytotoxic effect, and can cause apoptosis. Moreover, some antimicrobials are known to be helpful in overcoming side effects of drugs commonly used in cancer treatment. Chemotherapy related bacteremia and neutropenia can be overcome by the appropriately timed use of antimicrobials. This review summarizes the data on the effects of antivirals and antibiotics on cancer treatment and describes their mechanisms.