The Power of Your Gut to Promote A Better Response to Melanoma Cancer Treatment

Posted May 2022
Avocado, Edamame & Chili Oil on Corn Thins slices


The power of a healthy gut mircobiome in optimizing your overall health is well known. Its impact may reach as far as promoting a better response to cancer immunotherapy treatment in melanoma patients. It is estimated that one in every seventeen Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime. It is the third most common form of cancer in Australian after prostate and colorectal cancer for men and breast and colorectal cancer for women. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which affects the cells of your skin called melanocytes. Ultraviolet light (UV) as well as tanning beds play a major influence on the development of melanoma.

If you are diagnosed with a melanoma you may need to undergo immunotherapy treatment. Immunotherapy treatment is treatment aimed to restore your immune system to optimal levels to fight the cancer. Your gut plays a major role in your immune systems response and around 70% of your immune system is in your gut.

A new study has provided insight to the powerful potential of a healthy gut in promoting a better response to immunotherapy in melanoma cancer patients. This research was an observational study investigating the effects of dietary fiber and probiotics on 438 people diagnosed with melanoma with most of these people receiving immunotherapy treatment. The researchers asked the people in the study to fill out a dietary questionnaire as well as a survey of their use of probiotics and antibiotics.

The researchers found that those individuals who included more prebiotic fiber, the type of fiber which feeds the health promoting microbes had a better response to checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy compared to those patients who followed a low fiber diet. The best response to this form of immunotherapy was seen in patients who combined a high pre-biotic fiber diet with a supplement form of probiotics.

The researchers also investigated the effects of tumor growth and high-fiber diets in mice. The researchers found that when the mouse’s diet was rich in fiber the tumor growth and a better response to immunotherapy treatment.

A lifestyle approach to achieving a diet high in prebiotic fiber is creating a diet which is largely plant based. This includes foods like whole grains, whole grain containing foods like Corn Thins slices, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. Each meal and snack aim to include these plant foods. Different types of gut microbes require different types of prebiotic fuel. To help feed all your health promoting microbes a good goal is to include 30 different plant foods each week.

Take home message: Do not underestimate the power of your gut to promote health and wellbeing. Especially in the case of optimizing your immune system. This new research gives further insight of the importance your gut may play in promoting an optimal response to immunotherapy treatment in melanoma patients.



  1. The Australian Melanoma Research Foundation.
  2. Spencer CN, et al. Dietary fiber and probiotics influence the gut microbiome and melanoma immunotherapy response. Science. 2021 Dec 24;374(6575):1632-1640. doi: 10.1126/science.aaz7015. Epub 2021 Dec 23. PMID: 3494139
Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…