Epidemiology of virus infection and human cancer

Chien Jen Chen*, Wan Lun Hsu, Hwai I. Yang, Mei Hsuan Lee, Hui Chi Chen, Yin Chu Chien, San Lin You

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has comprehensively assessed the human carcinogenicity of biological agents. Seven viruses including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), Kaposi's sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV), human immunodeficiency virus, type-1 (HIV-1), human T cell lymphotrophic virus, type-1 (HTLV-1), and human papillomavirus (HPV) have been classified as Group 1 human carcinogens by IARC. The conclusions are based on the findings of epidemiological and mechanistic studies. EBV, HPV, HTLV-1, and KSHV are direct carcinogens; HBV and HCV are indirect carcinogens through chronic inflammation; HIV-1 is an indirect carcinogen through immune suppression. Some viruses may cause more than one cancer, while some cancers may be caused by more than one virus. However, only a proportion of persons infected by these oncogenic viruses will develop specific cancers. A series of studies have been carried out to assess the viral, host, and environmental cofactors of EBV-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma, HBV/HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma, and HPV-associated cervical carcinoma. Persistent infection and high viral load are important risk predictors of these virus-caused cancers. Risk calculators incorporating host and viral factors have also been developed for the prediction of long-term risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. These risk calculators are useful for the triage and clinical management of infected patients. Both clinical trials and national programs of immunization or antiviral therapy have demonstrated a significant reduction in the incidence of cancers caused by HBV, HCV, and HPV. Future researches on gene-gene and gene-environment interaction of oncogenic viruses and human host are in urgent need.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViruses and Human Cancer
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basic Science to Clinical Prevention
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9783642389641
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameRecent Results in Cancer Research
ISSN (Print)0080-0015


  • Cancer
  • EBV
  • Epidemiology
  • HBV
  • HCV
  • HIV
  • HPV
  • HTLV-I
  • KSHV


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