Epidemiology of cancers of infectious origin and prevention strategies


Infectious diseases


Infectious and parasitic diseases represent the third cause of cancer worldwide. A number of infectious and parasitic agents have been suspected or recognized to be associated with human cancers, including DNA viruses, such as papillomaviruses (several HPV types), herpesviruses (EBV and KSHV), polyomaviruses (SV40, MCV, BK, and JCV), and hepadnaviruses (HBV); RNA viruses, such as flaviviruses (HCV), defective viruses (HDV), and retroviruses (HTLV-I, HTLV-II, HIV-1, HIV-2,HERV-K, and XMRV); bacteria, such as H. pylori, S. typhi, S. bovis, Bartonella, and C. pneumoniae; protozoa, such as P. falciparum; trematodes, such as S. haematobium, S. japonicum, S. mansoni, O. viverrini, O. felineus, and C. sinensis. Each one of the chronic infections with H. pylori, HPV, and HBV/HCV is responsible for approxi- mately the 5% of all human cancers. The primary prevention of infection-related cancers is addressed both to avoidance and eradication of chronic infections and to protection of the host organism. Vaccines provide fundamental tools for the prevention of infectious diseases and related cancers. The large-scale application of the HBV vaccine has already shown to favorably affect the epidemiological burden of primary hepatocellular carcinoma, and HPV vaccines have specifically been designed in order to prevent cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers. The secondary prevention of infection-associated cancers has already found broad applications in the control of cervical cancer. Detection of early gastric cancer by endoscopy has been applied in Asian countries. Avoidance of local relapses, invasion, and metastasis may be achieved by applying tertiary prevention, which targets specific mechanisms, such as angiogenesis.



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