Bowel cancer, which refers to cancerous tumors that have developed in the colon and rectum, is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed amongst thousands every year.
This type of cancer can cause numerous symptoms to develop, and the cancer has the potential to spread to other parts of the body.
For many years, medical scientists have known that certain gut bacteria play a part in tumors that are found in the gastrointestinal tract or, more specifically, the colon and the rectum, but a recent study has provided a breakthrough in the understanding between gut bacteria and bowel cancer.
This new study found that a certain species of bacteria might cause the progression of bowel cancer to be more severe, leading to the faster growth and spreading of cancerous cells in these particular areas of the body.
In this post, we are going to take a quick look at this study, as well as discuss the symptoms to look out for when bowel cancer may be developing. We will also take a quick look at the prevalence of this particular cancer.
Study Links Bacteria Species To Bowel Cancer
A study published on the PLOS Pathogens journal on the 13th of July 2017 looked at how exactly a particular bacteria species affects bowel cancer.
The species in question is the Streptococcus gallolyticus bacterium species and medical scientists have known for a long time now that these bacteria species are most often found amongst patients diagnosed with bowel cancer, but studies have not yet looked at how this bacteria and bowel cancer is connected.
This new study wanted to provide more accurate details about this particular connection; thus they have tested the effects of the Streptococcus gallolyticus bacteria species on the growth of bowel tumors in laboratory mice, as well as on cancerous cells extracted from human specimens.
In addition to examining the effects of this particular bacteria species on bowel cancer, the scientists also tested other bacteria species, as well as a saline solution, in other specimens for comparison.
After the study period was completed, the scientists found that there is a definite link, as previously thought, between the growth of bowel cancer cells and the Streptococcus gallolyticus bacteria species.
They have not, however, found a link between the development of cancerous tumors in the bowel and this species, but further research will still be conducted to provide more details on whether a link between the development of cancerous cells and this species is also possible.
For now, however, they have proven that the bacteria species causes the growth rate of cancerous cells in the bowel to accelerate considerably, especially when compared to the results they obtained while using other bacteria species or a saline solution.
Even when these bacteria species were added to cancerous cells extracted from human specimens, a significant accelerated growth rate was observed.
It is not yet known exactly how people obtain these bacteria species, as up to 8% of healthy individuals do possess Streptococcus gallolyticus in their gastrointestinal tract, but there do seem to be a connection between high red meat consumption and the presence of this particular bacteria species.
Bowel Cancer Statistics
Bowel cancer is a relatively common form of cancer. Knowing the prevalence, outlook and death count of bowel cancer is an important part of understanding this particular disease.
Cancer Research UK reports that an average of 41,265 new cases of bowel cancer is diagnosed in the United Kingdom each year, with approximately 15,903 deaths causes from bowel cancer per year.
Around 57% of all patients diagnosed with bowel cancer are able to survive for at least ten years after their initial diagnosis, and around 54% of bowel cancer diagnosis could have been prevented. In the United States, the statistics are somewhat higher than the United Kingdom.
The American Cancer Society reports that an average of 95,520 patients are diagnosed with colon cancer each year and around 39,910 patients are diagnosed with rectal cancer each year.
They also report that women are at a slightly lower risk to develop bowel cancer than men. An average of 50,260 patients is killed by colon or rectal cancer in the United States each year.
Bowel Cancer Symptoms
The first step to diagnosis of bowel cancer is identifying its symptoms. Early diagnosis of this cancer can lead to more successful treatment, which increases the patient’s chance for survival.
When the cancer is diagnosed at an advance stage, there is also the risk for metastasis, which means the cancer may spread to other parts of the patient’s body, causing the disease to become more aggressive and much harder to treat.
Thus, people should educate themselves about the potential symptoms of bowel cancer and identify the development of these symptoms as soon as they occur. When these symptoms develop, the patient should seek medical attention from a doctor.
According to NHS Choices, the majority of patients with bowel cancer experiences a change in their regular bowel habits. Stool is also looser than usual and the change in bowel movement is accompanied by abdominal pain.
Some patients also find that blood is present in their stools and not accompanied by symptoms that are associated with hemorrhoids.
In addition to these symptoms, another common symptom to look out for is abdominal discomfort and pain that occurs during and after a meal. Bloating may also be present in combination with the pain and discomfort. This often causes patients to consume less food, which may lead to weight loss.
Bowel cancer affects millions of people and can lead to numerous symptoms that may not only be uncomfortable, but also severely painful. In more advance stages, the disease may spread to other body parts.
Many studies are being conducted to identify more accurate information about potential causes of bowel cancer, and one of the most recent studies have now linked the Streptococcus gallolyticus to an accelerated growth rate of cancerous cells within the bowel.
Further studies will now be conducted to find out more about this particular connection, and may lead to the advancement of diagnosis, prevention and treatment for bowel cancer.