The gut microbiome: what the oncologist ought to know

The gut microbiome: what the oncologist ought to know

The gut microbiome (GM) has been implicated in a vast number of human pathologies and has become a focus of oncology research over the past 5 years. The normal gut microbiota imparts specific function in host nutrient metabolism, xenobiotic and drug metabolism, maintenance of structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier, immunomodulation and protection against pathogens.

Strong evidence is emerging to support the effects of the GM on the development of some malignancies but also on responses to cancer therapies, most notably, immune checkpoint inhibition.

Tools for manipulating the GM including dietary modification, probiotics and faecal microbiota transfer (FMT) are in development. Current understandings of the many complex interrelationships between the GM, cancer, the immune system, nutrition and medication are ultimately based on a combination of short‐term clinical trials and observational studies, paired with an ever-evolving understanding of cancer biology.

The next generation of personalised cancer therapies focusses on molecular and phenotypic heterogeneity, tumour evolution and immune status; it is distinctly possible that the GM will become an increasingly central focus amongst them.

The aim of this review is to provide clinicians with an overview of microbiome science and our current understanding of the role the GM plays in cancer.


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