Epstein-barr virus-associated malignancies: epidemiologic patterns and etiologic implications

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2000 Apr;34(1):27-53. doi: 10.1016/s1040-8428(00)00046-9.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a ubiquitous B-lymphotrophic herpesvirus, has been found in the tumor cells of a heterogeneous group of malignancies (Burkitt's lymphoma, lymphomas associated with immunosuppression, other non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, Hodgkin's disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric adenocarcinoma, lymphoepithelioma-like carcinomas, and immunodeficiency-related leiomyosarcoma). As the epidemiologic characteristics of these cancers have not been considered together, this review seeks to relate their incidence patterns and risk factors to EBV biology and virus-host interaction in an attempt to help elucidate factors involved in EBV-related carcinogenesis. We include a brief review of EBV virology and primary infection to provide a biologic context for considering the epidemiology, summarize the most salient epidemiologic features of each malignancy, synthesize epidemiologic data by risk factor to uncover commonalities and informative contrasts across the diseases, and propose hypotheses regarding etiologic mechanisms, based on the possible effect of the risk factors at various stages in the viral life cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology