Researchers Discover New Pathogen In Oral Tumours

Scientists from the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC)-Tata Memorial Centre have identified the presence of a bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum, in the oral tumours at a significantly higher burden than in the oral cavity of healthy individuals. This bacterium was found to be present at high levels in most of the oral cancers studied.

Researchers Discover New Pathogen In Oral Tumours

This bacterium is commonly found occurring as part of the normal flora within the human oropharynx and its presence in oral cancer tissues was discovered during previous work by other researchers who found that its absence in healthy individuals correlated with an increase in survival rates within a group of breast cancer patients.


Interestingly, Fusobacterium nucleatum is known to play a vital role in colorectal cancer, wherein its presence affects the spread of the disease and the patient’s response to chemotherapy. However, a similar role of Fusobacterium in oral cancer was not known earlier.

The presence of the bacteria was found in Indian and Caucasian oral cancer patients, with a much higher incidence among the Indian patients.

Moreover, oral cancer patients positive for Fusobacterium were found to be negative for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, suggesting they are present in a mutually exclusive way.

What is Oral Tumour?

An oral tumour is a cancer that occurs in the mouth. There are many types of oral tumours, but they all start in the squamous cells that line the mouth, tongue and lips.

Oral Tumour Symptoms

The following are some symptoms of oral tumours:

  • White or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away and is painful when swallowing
  • A feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • Numbness of tissue inside the mouth
  • Pain in one ear without hearing loss
  • Swelling of lymph nodes under jaw and chin, sometimes with painless sores on the lip or in the mouth