Cancerous Pancreatic Cysts and Endoscopy

A new study has found that oral bacteria in “cystic pancreatic tumors” is associated with the severity of the tumors. Not all pancreatic tumors are cancerous. These cystic pancreatic tumors (pancreatic cysts) are often benign. Some of them, however, can become cancerous. Perhaps more important, it is difficult to identify which cystic pancreatic digestive system - pancreas highlight  - pixabay cco free -41529 1280tumors will become cancerous.

Until now, this differentiation was only possible with surgery. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that the differentiation, and determination of the severity of the tumor, can be made based on bacteria inside the cystic tumor.

One reason pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that it is often discovered only late in its process. The new research is able to find the bacteria at a time when the cysts are only beginning to show signs of cancer. They are able to isolate the bacterial DNA in fluid from the cancerous cysts. These cysts (tumors) should be surgically removed. The researchers hope this kind of testing and identification of oral bacteria will reduce the number of diagnostic surgical procedures performed and reduce the number of procedures performed to remove benign cysts.

But how does oral bacteria enter the pancreas? One mechanism is in the invasive pancreas endoscopy. These researchers found that the amount of bacterial DNA was higher in patients who had undergone pancreatic endoscopy. This procedure inserts a flexible tube into the mouth and down the throat. They believe that without adequate removal of the bacteria prior to the endoscopy, some of the bacteria is transmitted by the flexible tube.

The value of the research is not conclusive at this time. First, the findings of this study need to be corroborated with additional studies. Second, although endoscopy explains the presence of the bacteria in the pancreas of some patients, it does not explain it in all patients. Therefore, additional study is needed to determine why and how the oral bacteria are introduced into the pancreas.

The study is promising. It indicates that the likelihood of transference during endoscopy can be reduced by rinsing the mouth with an antibacterial agent and good oral hygiene prior to an endoscopy. Much remains to be tested and confirmed before developing new treatments and diagnostic tests. It is encouraging to think that we may be approaching a new treatment protocol to reduce incidences of cancerous cystic pancreatic tumors and to treat them before they become deadly.