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Int J Cancer. 2013 Oct 1;133(7):1517-29. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27995. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Carcinogenic viruses and solid cancers without sufficient evidence of causal association.

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Scientific Directorate, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, IRCCS, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Via Franco Gallini 2, Aviano, Italy.


Viral infections are important risk factors for tumor development in humans. Selected types of cancers, either lymphomas or carcinomas, for which there is sufficient evidence in humans of a causal association with specific viruses, have been identified. Experimental and clinical data on the possible association of other tumor types and carcinogenic viruses are presently controversial. In this article, we review the current evidence on the relationship between breast, colorectal and lung cancers and carcinogenic viruses. The majority of the publications reviewed do not provide definitive evidence that the viruses studied are associated with breast, colon and lung cancers. However, since this association may be clinically relevant for some tumor subtypes (i.e., lung cancer and papillomaviruses), there is an urgent need for further investigation on this topic. Using innovative laboratory techniques for viral detection on well-defined tumor types, National and International networks against cancer should encourage and organize concerted research programs on viruses and solid cancer association.


Epstein Barr virus; JC virus; Merkel Cell virus; Mouse Mammary Tumor virus; human papillomaviruses; solid cancers

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