Microbiota dysbiosis in select human cancers: Evidence of association and causality

Semin Immunol. 2017 Aug;32:25-34. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


The human microbiota is a complex ecosystem of diverse microorganisms consisting of bacteria, viruses, and fungi residing predominantly in epidermal and mucosal habitats across the body, such as skin, oral cavity, lung, intestine and vagina. These symbiotic communities in health, or dysbiotic communities in disease, display tremendous interaction with the local environment and systemic responses, playing a critical role in the host's nutrition, immunity, metabolism and diseases including cancers. While the profiling of normal microbiota in healthy populations is useful and necessary, more recent studies have focused on the microbiota associated with disease, particularly cancers. In this paper, we review current evidence on the role of the human microbiota in four cancer types (colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer) proposed as affected by both the oral and gut microbiota, and provide a perspective on current gaps in the knowledge of the microbiota and cancer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dysbiosis / complications
  • Dysbiosis / immunology*
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • Mouth / immunology*
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Mucous Membrane / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Symbiosis