What is the relationship between antibiotic use and cancer treatment? Elizabeth Tracey reports


People with cancer of the pancreas who had used antibiotics in the year prior to their treatment fared worse when their cancer was treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors than those who had not, a recent study finds. Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson says there are multiple aspects of this finding to consider.

Nelson: Right now you would only treat someone on immunotherapy with an antibiotic if they had an active infection. But this question is what about last year before you knew you had a cancer. That’s a little bit more difficult. Now there’s broad based overuse of antibiotics; I think some of that is improving. There are times in when people get antibiotics, on and around the time of surgery, even for cancer, they get antibiotics in and around the time they get biopsied, and I actually do wonder whether we might be in an environment where we are supplying the bacteria they may have killed.  :31

Replenishing the gut flora is being actively investigated in many arenas of health care, especially as we learn more about how the group of microorganisms impact overall health. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.