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Viral cancer- is there such a thing?
Sep 7, 2002

we have been told about someone who has "viral cancer", was wondering if there is such a thing. The person has been having chemotherapy.

Response from Dr. Dezube

There is indeed "viral cancers". Many cancers, particularly the ones, that HIV-infected patients get are caused or are tightly linked to viruses. Just a few examples are as follows:

Kaposi's sarcoma is caused by the Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus, also known as human herpesvirus-8 (HHV8).

Cervical and anal cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus, also known as the wart virus.

Hepatoma, a form of liver cancer, can be caused by both the hepatitis B virus and the hepatitis C virus.

Many lymphomas and many forms of Hodgkin's disease can be caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus.

This list goes on and on. Although it can certainly make one paranoid, it's important to realize that all of us (i.e. every human being walking the face of this Earth) are exposed routinely to viruses. Such is the nature of life. In only a small proportion of the cases, will these viruses lead to cancer. More often, the immune system is able to prevent the viruses from doing their damage.


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