Public Release: 

Rich inner lives: exploring the connection between cancer and the human microbiome

Microbes have the power to cause -- and treat -- human cancer



IMAGE: A cartoon image of a bacteria confiding in a doctor, stating "Doctor, I feel so conflicted - what IS my role in cancer? " view more 

Credit: Audrey Nailor,

Every human cell is outnumbered in our bodies by microbes, in a ratio estimated at three-to-one. We need these microbes to thrive, and sometimes they can kill us - but we don't know them very well.

That's why ecancermedicalscience has prepared our latest Special Issue, focusing specifically on the "oncomicrobiome" - a phrase that readers may not be familiar with now, but which will play a large role in our future understanding of cancer.

"Humans are super-organisms of massive interconnecting genomes from trillions of organisms that are all essential for maintaining health," says Guest Editor Dr Alasdair Scott of Imperial College, London, UK.

The microbiome, or the sum of the genetic information contained within these organisms, is almost unimaginably vast - and incredibly complex, with thousands of relationships developed over our long history of co-evolution with the microscopic.

"We're beginning to appreciate that the human microbiome impacts on nearly every aspect of human physiology and pathophysiology," Dr Scott explains.

Now it's time to turn our attention to the "oncomicrobiome," the complex connection between cancer and the microbiome.

"This cutting-edge Special Issue delves into our rapidly evolving understanding of the microbiome in both the causation and treatment of cancer," says Dr Scott.

This Special Issue collects six original review articles that examine this complex relationship, ranging from the use of probiotics in cancer treatment, to the interaction of the microbiome with chemotherapy, to examining the bacterial infections that may lead to colorectal and lung cancer. The development of microbial DNA sequencing techniques and the rise of bioinformatics are also explored.


All of the articles on this fascinating topic are completely free to read. You're invited to explore the potential of this inner world at

Editor's Notes

For more information, contact Audrey Nailor, Journal Editor, at


Citation information:

Lung Cancer: a new frontier for microbiome research and clinical translation
Luis A. J. Mur, Sharon A. Huws, Simon J.S. Cameron, Paul D. Lewis Keir E. Lewis

Pre-, pro- and synbiotics in oncology patients
Alasdair J Scott, Claire A Merrifield, Jessica A Younes and Elsbeth Pekelharing

Moving on from Metchnikoff: Thinking about microbiome therapeutics in cancer
Saman Maleki Vareki, Ryan M. Chanyi, Kamilah Abdur-Rashid, Liam Brennan, Jeremy P. Burton

Colorectal Carcinogenesis: an archetype of gut microbiota - host interaction
James L. Alexander, Alasdair J. Scott, Anna. L. Pouncey, Julian Marchesi, James Kinross, Julian Teare

Gut microbiota, chemotherapy, and the host: the influence of the gut microbiota on cancer treatment
Pouncey AL, Scott AJ, Alexander JL, Marchesi J and Kinross J

The implementation of 'omics technologies in cancer microbiome research
Benjamin H Mullish, Laura S Osborne, Julian R Marchesi, Julie A K McDonald

About ecancermedicalscience (

ecancermedicalscience (ecancer) is the official open access journal of the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) and the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Milan.

The journal was established in 2007 by Professor Umberto Veronesi and Professor Gordon McVie with the mission to break down the financial barriers to accessing cancer research and education.

The journal is not for profit and only charges authors an article publication fee if they have specific funding for publishing. So far over 2000 authors have published for free. The journal is funded by the ecancer Global Foundation, educational grants, sponsorship and charitable donations.

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