Parasite Infection, Carcinogenesis and Human Malignancy

EBioMedicine. 2017 Feb:15:12-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.11.034. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


Cancer may be induced by many environmental and physiological conditions. Infections with viruses, bacteria and parasites have been recognized for years to be associated with human carcinogenicity. Here we review current concepts of carcinogenicity and its associations with parasitic infections. The helminth diseases schistosomiasis, opisthorchiasis, and clonorchiasis are highly carcinogenic while the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, the causing agent of Chagas disease, has a dual role in the development of cancer, including both carcinogenic and anticancer properties. Although malaria per se does not appear to be causative in carcinogenesis, it is strongly associated with the occurrence of endemic Burkitt lymphoma in areas holoendemic for malaria. The initiation of Plasmodium falciparum related endemic Burkitt lymphoma requires additional transforming events induced by the Epstein-Barr virus. Observations suggest that Strongyloides stercoralis may be a relevant co-factor in HTLV-1-related T cell lymphomas. This review provides an overview of the mechanisms of parasitic infection-induced carcinogenicity.

Keywords: Carcinogenesis; Chagas disease; Infection-associated cancer; Malaria; Opisthorchiasis; Schistosomiasis; Strongyloidiasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Parasitic Diseases / complications*
  • Parasitic Diseases / metabolism
  • Parasitic Diseases / parasitology*