Chinese researchers have identified gut microbiota as a new biomarker of liver cancer, that can help in early diagnosis as well as treatment of the condition.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide.
Due to the absence of specific symptoms in early stages and the lack of diagnostic markers, most patients with HCC are often diagnosed in an advanced stage.
Researchers from China's Zhejiang University, and Zhengzhou University, found that the microbial diversity in patients with cirrhosis was significantly lower than that in healthy people, but it increased when cirrhosis develops into cancer, the Xinhua reported.
Human gut microbiota has been considered the most important micro-ecosystem living with the body, containing tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1,000 species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes.
Gut microbiota can help the body digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.
For the study, appearing in the journal Gut, the team collected 486 fecal samples from across the country.
About 12 bacteria genera decreased and six increased in patients with early cancer compared with healthy people.
According to researchers, more data and further studies are needed to confirm the validity and reliability of the model.