Human herpes viruses in non-melanoma skin cancers

Cancer Lett. 2003 Jul 30;198(1):77-81. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(03)00269-6.


We examined the possible involvement of human herpes viruses in sporadic non-melanoma skin cancer of Greek patients. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based detection assays were utilized for the detection of viral cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus (HSV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genomes in 24 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), five Bowen's disease, 72 basal cell carcinomas (BCC) specimens and eight premalignant lesions. Forty-two of 109 (38.5%) skin lesions were found positive for CMV DNA. The highest incidence was 6/8 (75%) observed in specimens with premalignant lesions. The incidence was 37.5% (27/72) in BCC, 33% (8/24) in SCC and 20% (1/5) in extragenital Bowen's disease. All samples were negative for HSV-1/2 and EBV DNA as assessed by our PCR based assay. The CMV infection showed no statistically significant correlation with the histological type, age, site of lesion or sex. Our results give a strong indication of the possible involvement of CMV in non-melanoma skin cancer development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cytomegalovirus / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex
  • Herpesviridae / genetics
  • Herpesviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Simplexvirus / isolation & purification
  • Skin Neoplasms / virology*


  • DNA, Viral