Antibiotics, cancer risk and oncologic treatment efficacy: a practical review of the literature

21 Sep 2020
Moises S Martins Lopes, Larissa M Machado, Pedro A Ismael Amaral Silva, Angel A Tome Uchiyama, Cheng T Yen, Eliza D Ricardo, Taciana S Mutao, Jefferson R Pimento, Jefferson R Pimenta, Denis S Shimba, Rodrigo M Hanriot, Renata D Peixoto

Antibiotics have been extensively used to treat infectious diseases over the past century and have largely contributed to increased life expectancy over time. However, antibiotic use can impose profound and protracted changes to the diversity of the microbial ecosystem, affecting the composition of up to 30% of the bacterial species in the gut microbiome. By modifying human microbiota composition, antibiotics alter the action of several oncologic drugs, potentially leading to decreased efficacy and increased toxicities. Whether antibiotics interfere with cancer therapies or even increase the risk of cancer development has been under investigation, and no randomised trials have been conducted so far. The aim of the current review is to describe the possible effects of antibiotic therapies on different oncologic treatments, especially immunotherapies, and to explore the link between previous antibiotics use and the development of cancer.