A new study has identified five types of bacteria that are linked to aggressive prostate cancer.

The bacteria was common in urine and tissue samples from men with the condition, researchers found.

It is hoped the findings could help pave the way for treatments that could target this bacteria and slow or prevent the development of aggressive disease.

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Scientists do not yet know how people pick up the bacteria, or whether they are causing the disease.

Project lead Professor Colin Cooper from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, said: “We already know of some strong associations between infections and cancer.

“For example, the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the digestive tract can lead to stomach ulcers and is associated with stomach cancer, and some types of the HPV virus can cause cervical cancer.

“We wanted to find out whether bacteria could be linked to the way prostate cancer grows and spreads.”

Dr Jeremy Clark, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “While prostate cancer is responsible for a large proportion of all male cancer deaths, it is more commonly a disease men die with rather than from.

The Bolton News: It is noted that prostate cancer can often be a disease men die with rather than from (PA)It is noted that prostate cancer can often be a disease men die with rather than from (PA) (Image: PA)

“And little is known about what causes some prostate cancers to become more aggressive than others.

“We now have evidence that certain bacteria are involved in this and are part of the puzzle.”

The team worked with researchers at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Quadram Institute, and other collaborators to analyse urine or tissue samples from more than 600 patients with or without prostate cancer.

They developed methods of finding the bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer.

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Dr Rachel Hurst, the first author of this work and also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We found several types of bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer, some of which are new types of bacteria never found before.”

Two of the new bacteria species found by the team have been named after two of the study’s funders – Porphyromonas bobii, after the The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, and Varibaculum prostatecancerukia, after Prostate Cancer UK.

The set of bacteria found by the team includes Anaerococcus, Peptoniphilus, Porphyromonas, Fenollaria and Fusobacterium.

All the bacteria like to grow without oxygen present.

The researchers also noted many bacteria are beneficial to human life and it is not a simple matter to remove the harmful bacteria without removing the protection provided by the good bacteria.

The study, published in European Urology Oncology, was funded by The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Prostate Cancer UK.