With a mortality rate of 96%, pancreatic cancer is considered the deadliest type of cancer, all but incurable. But a growing number of studies suggest that an alternative cancer treatment, immunotherapy, may hold the key to beating this typically fatal form of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society estimates, pancreatic cancer is expected to kill an estimated 38,500 Americans this year.
But hope may be on the horizon. An increasing body of research suggests that bacterial infections, particularly in the stomach and gums, play a significant role in the development of pancreatic cancer and may even act as a trigger for the disease.
Cancer researchers have been searching for a link between known risk factors for pancreatic cancer: smoking, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, alcoholism and pancreatitis — without success until now. As reported in Live Science, that link may be the presence of two specific bacteria:
- Helicobacter pylori which has been linked to stomach cancer and peptic ulcers, and
- Porphyrmomonas gingivalis which has been linked to poor dental hygiene and gum disease.
Scientists now believe that these bacteria affect the body’s immune system, promoting widespread infection and preventing the immune system from defending the body. The primary risk factors of pancreatic cancer are already known to weaken immune system response. The combination of an already weakened immune system and a virulent bacterial attack may simply overwhelm the body’s ability to fight back, promoting the growth of cancer cells in the pancreas.
Immunotherapy to boost the immune system may provide the best hope of remission and possible recovery from pancreatic cancer and other cancers linked to immune system response.