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

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


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