Defining the role of the gut microbiome in colorectal cancer: an analysis of molecular mechanisms
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Colorectal cancer (CRC) has the 3rd highest incidence and 2nd highest mortality of all cancers in the United States. These numbers have improved with proper screening and the development of new therapies, but CRC continues to evade detection and resist therapy in late stages. The gut microbiome has emerged as a possible explanation for heterogeneity in this disease. In order to help develop screening techniques and accurate, targeted therapies, this review covers the molecular mechanisms by which the microbiome induces CRC. An analysis of current research has confirmed its physiological roles of maintaining intestinal immune homeostasis and metabolizing products produced by the host. When these functions are impaired, CRC can develop. This may occur through damage to the intestinal barrier, inflammation, and production of genotoxins and other metabolites with carcinogenic potential.