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Bacteria may trigger a chain reaction leading to bowel cancer. Fusobacteria, commonly found in the mouth, cause overactive immune responses and turn on cancer growth genes, two US studies reveal. The microbes had been linked with colorectal cancer before but it was unclear whether they were directly involved in tumour growth. Experts also hope that the discovery could lead to an earlier diagnosis. The first study, carried out by Harvard Medical School researchers, showed that fusobacteria were present in high numbers in adenomas, a bowel growth that can become cancerous over time. Dr Wendy Garrett, lead author of Harvard study, tells the BBC, "Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumour growth and spread." She added that the presence of the bacteria in a tumour may be used to guide treatment decisions in the future.

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