Gut microbiome in gastrointestinal cancer: a friend or foe?

Int J Biol Sci. 2022 Jun 21;18(10):4101-4117. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.69331. eCollection 2022.


The impact of the gut microbiome on host health is becoming increasingly recognized. To date, there is growing evidence that the complex characteristics of the microbial community play key roles as potential biomarkers and predictors of responses in cancer therapy. Many studies have shown that altered commensal bacteria lead to cancer susceptibility and progression in diverse pathways. In this review, we critically assess the data for gut microbiota related to gastrointestinal cancer, including esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, colorectal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Importantly, the underlying mechanisms of gut microbiota involved in cancer occurrence, prevention and treatment are elucidated. The purpose of this review is to provide novel insights for applying this understanding to the development of new therapeutic strategies in gastrointestinal cancer by targeting the microbial community.

Keywords: GI cancer; carcinogenesis; chemotherapy; gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms* / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Microbiota*