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Viruses and cancer 

Viruses and cancer
Viruses and cancer

R.A. Weiss


May 30, 2013: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.


Chapter reviewed, minor changes made, addition to Further reading.

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date: 01 December 2021

Viruses are important in cancer for three main reasons: (1) As a cause of cancer—about 15% of the worldwide cancer burden is due to viruses: retroviruses can activate cellular oncogenes; (2) In understanding of the biology of cancer—through the discovery and characterization of oncogenes and tumour-suppressor genes. (3) In the treatment of cancer—some viruses selectively replicate in and destroy proliferating cells, viruses as foreign antigens may aid the recognition of cancer cells by the host’s immune system (‘xenogenization’), and viruses can also be used as vectors for immunization and for gene therapy. Viral cancers are prevented by early screening for tumours, screening for the virus in order to prevent transmission, and immunization as in the cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papilloma virus (HPV)...

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