Infection and cancer: global distribution and burden of diseases

Ann Glob Health. Sep-Oct 2014;80(5):384-92. doi: 10.1016/j.aogh.2014.09.013.


Background: Infection is one of the main risk factors for cancer.

Objectives: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and disease burden of infection-related cancers were reviewed by infectious agents.

Findings: Chronic infection with Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C viruses, Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1, human papillomavirus (HPV), human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1, Helicobacter pylori, Clonorchis sinensis, Opisthorchis viverrini, and Schistosoma haematobium are associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma; lymphoma and leukemia, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and Burkitt lymphoma; hepatocellular carcinoma; Kaposi sarcoma; oropharyngeal carcinoma; cervical carcinoma and carcinoma of other anogential sites; adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma; gastric carcinoma; cholangiocarcinoma; and urinary bladder cancer. In 2008, approximately 2 million new cancer cases (16%) worldwide were attributable to infection. If these infections could be prevented and/or treated, it is estimated that there would be about 23% fewer cancers in less developed regions of the world, and about 7% fewer cancers in more developed regions.

Conclusion: Widespread application of existing public health methods for the prevention of infection, such as vaccination, safer injection practices, quality-assured screening of all donated blood and blood components, antimicrobial treatments, and safer sex practices, including minimizing one's lifetime number of sexual partners and condom use, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide.

Keywords: burden; cancer; infection; vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clonorchiasis / epidemiology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HTLV-I Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Neoplasms / parasitology
  • Opisthorchiasis / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Schistosomiasis haematobia
  • Trematode Infections / epidemiology*
  • Trematode Infections / parasitology
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Virus Diseases / virology