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Med Hypotheses. 2012 Nov;79(5):678-97. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.08.008. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Hepatitis B and C virus infections as possible risk factor for pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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Unità Operativa di Medicina Interna, Ospedale di Budrio, Budrio, Bologna, Italy.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAC) is a very aggressive and lethal cancer, with a very poor prognosis, because of absence of early symptoms, advanced stage at presentation, early metastatic dissemination and lack of both specific tests to detect its growth in the initial phases and effective systemic therapies. To date, the causes of PAC still remain largely unknown, but multiple lines of evidence from epidemiological and laboratory researches suggest that about 15-20% of all cancers are linked in some way to chronic infection, in particular it has been shown that several viruses have a role in human carcinogenesis. The purpose of this report is to discuss the hypothesis that two well-known oncogenic viruses, Human B hepatitis (HBV) and Human C hepatitis (HCV) are a possible risk factor for this cancer. Therefore, with the aim to examine the potential link between these viruses and PAC, we performed a selection of observational studies evaluating this association and we hypothesized that some pathogenetic mechanisms involved in liver carcinogenesis might be in common with pancreatic cancer development in patients with serum markers of present or past HBV and HCV infections. To date the available observational studies performed are few, heterogeneous in design as well as in end-points and with not univocal results, nevertheless they might represent the starting-point for future larger and better designed clinical trials to define this hypothesized relationship. Should these further studies confirm an association between HBV/HCV infection and PAC, screening programs might be justified in patients with active or previous hepatitis B and C viral infection.

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