Oncogenic Viruses and Cancer Transmission

  • Robin A. Weiss
Part of the Current Cancer Research book series (CUCR)


One in six cancers in humans has a viral etiology, and viruses are also a major contributor to cancer incidence in some animal species. Therefore, vaccines that control or reduce oncogenic virus infection promise to significantly reduce the overall global cancer burden. Moreover, investigation of the pathogenesis and transmission of cancer-associated viruses has provided profound insights into the molecular biology of cancer more generally. The transmission routes of oncogenic viruses are complex and varied, including horizontal and vertical transmission, and in the case of retroviruses, the generation of recombinant, transforming viruses between infectious and endogenous elements. Several puzzles remain: for instance, why certain human viruses with high oncogenic potential in experimental animals are not associated with cancer in their natural host, such as BK virus and adenoviruses? Most kinds of viral tumors only appear after long incubation periods (e.g., Kaposi’s sarcoma) or after exposure to other predisposing cofactors (e.g., Burkitt’s lymphoma), indicating that the virus is a necessary but not sufficient agent of tumorigenesis. Thus, the majority of individuals carry lifelong infections without ill effects, and the cancers may be regarded as occasional “side effects” of much more frequent virus infection and transmission.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Bovine Leukemia Virus Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus Oncogenic Virus Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Infection and ImmunityUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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