, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1433-1443
Date: 19 Feb 2013

An update on viral association of human cancers

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Up to now, seven viruses that infect humans have been identified as oncogenic and are closely associated with different human cancers. Most of them encode oncogenes whose products play important roles in the development of cancers in the context of environmental and genetic factors; others may act via indirect mechanisms. The transforming activities of the human oncogenic viruses have much in common with the well-studied tumorigenic processes elicited by the acutely transforming murine retroviruses. Many of these mechanisms have been elucidated for or are represented in the successive steps leading to the efficient in vitro immortalization by the lymphotropic herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus, although the establishment of malignancy in vivo takes longer. The development of cancer is a complicated process involving multiple factors, from the host and the environment. Although any one of these etiologic factors may exert an effect on the carcinogenic process, vaccination against the viral pathogen in several cases has shown efficacy in preventing the spread of the virus and, in turn, the development of the associated cancers. Modern laboratory techniques can be expected to facilitate the identification of new emerging viruses whose association with malignancies is suggested by epidemiologic and clinical data.