Infectious Agents Associated with Head and Neck Carcinomas

  • Andrea Hettmann
  • Anett Demcsák
  • Gábor Decsi
  • Ádám Bach
  • Dóra Pálinkó
  • László Rovó
  • Katalin Nagy
  • Mária Takács
  • Janos MinarovitsEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 897)


In addition to traditional risk factors such as smoking habits and alcohol consumption, certain microbes also play an important role in the generation of head and neck carcinomas. Infection with high-risk human papillomavirus types is strongly associated with the development of oropharyngeal carcinoma, and Epstein-Barr virus appears to be indispensable for the development of non-keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma of the nasopharynx. Other viruses including torque teno virus and hepatitis C virus may act as co-carcinogens, increasing the risk of malignant transformation. A shift in the composition of the oral microbiome was associated with the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma, although the causal or casual role of oral bacteria remains to be clarified. Conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde, a mutagenic compound, by members of the oral microflora as well as by fungi including Candida albicans and others is a potential mechanism that may increase oral cancer risk. In addition, distinct Candida spp. also produce NBMA (N-nitrosobenzylmethylamine), a potent carcinogen. Inflammatory processes elicited by microbes may also facilitate tumorigenesis in the head and neck region.


Human papillomavirus Oropharyngeal carcinoma Epstein-Barr virus Nasopharyngeal carcinoma Co-carcinogen Torque teno virus Hepatitis C virus Oral microbiome Mutagenic compound Candida albicans 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Hettmann
    • 1
  • Anett Demcsák
    • 2
  • Gábor Decsi
    • 3
  • Ádám Bach
    • 4
  • Dóra Pálinkó
    • 4
  • László Rovó
    • 4
  • Katalin Nagy
    • 3
  • Mária Takács
    • 1
  • Janos Minarovits
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of VirologyNational Center for EpidemiologyBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Faculty of Dentistry, Department of Oral Biology and Experimental Dental ResearchUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  3. 3.Department of Oral SurgeryUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Head-Neck SurgeryUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary

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