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Gut bacteria 'fingerprint' predicts radiotherapy side effects

Gut bacteria 'fingerprint' predicts radiotherapy side effects

Taking a ‘fingerprint’ of the mix of bacteria in the gut can indicate how susceptible individual cancer patients are to gut damage as a result of radiotherapy for prostate and gynaecological cancers, a new study shows.

Researchers showed that having a reduced diversity of gut bacteria was associated with an increased risk of both immediate and delayed damage to the gut following radiotherapy.

If patients at higher risk of gut side effects could be identified before radiotherapy, they could be given procedures such as faecal transplants to treat or even prevent damage.

A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London studied the bacterial fingerprint and faecal samples of 134 patients at different stages pre and post radiotherapy to the prostate and pelvic lymph nodes.

Their study, published today (Wednesday) in Clinical Cancer Research, aimed to see if there was a difference in the combination of gut bacteria among patients who suffered gut damage following radiotherapy compared with those who didn’t.

The research was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The gut microbiota contains the largest


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