The oral microbiome, pancreatic cancer and human diversity in the age of precision medicine

Microbiome. 2022 Jun 15;10(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s40168-022-01262-7.


Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease with limited diagnostic and treatment options. Not all populations are affected equally, as disparities exist in pancreatic cancer prevalence, treatment and outcomes. Recently, next-generation sequencing has facilitated a more comprehensive analysis of the human oral microbiome creating opportunity for its application in precision medicine. Oral microbial shifts occur in patients with pancreatic cancer, which may be appreciated years prior to their diagnosis. In addition, pathogenic bacteria common in the oral cavity have been found within pancreatic tumors. Despite these findings, much remains unknown about how or why the oral microbiome differs in patients with pancreatic cancer. As individuals develop, their oral microbiome reflects both their genotype and environmental influences. Genetics, race/ethnicity, smoking, socioeconomics and age affect the composition of the oral microbiota, which may ultimately play a role in pancreatic carcinogenesis. Multiple mechanisms have been proposed to explain the oral dysbiosis found in patients with pancreatic cancer though they have yet to be confirmed. With a better understanding of the interplay between the oral microbiome and pancreatic cancer, improved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches may be implemented to reduce healthcare disparities. Video Abstract.

Keywords: Cancer; Disparities; Genetics; Microbiota; Oral health; Periodontitis; Race; Smoking; Socioeconomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota* / genetics
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / microbiology
  • Precision Medicine

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma