Viruses in case series of tumors: Consistent presence in different cancers in the same subject

PLoS One. 2017 Mar 3;12(3):e0172308. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172308. eCollection 2017.


Studies investigating presence of viruses in cancer often analyze case series of cancers, resulting in detection of many viruses that are not etiologically linked to the tumors where they are found. The incidence of virus-associated cancers is greatly increased in immunocompromised individuals. Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is also greatly increased and a variety of viruses have been detected in NMSC. As immunosuppressed patients often develop multiple independent NMSCs, we reasoned that viruses consistently present in independent tumors might be more likely to be involved in tumorigenesis. We sequenced 8 different NMSCs from 1 patient in comparison to 8 different NMSCs from 8 different patients. Among the latter, 12 different virus sequences were detected, but none in more than 1 tumor each. In contrast, the patient with multiple NMSCs had human papillomavirus type 15 and type 38 present in 6 out of 8 NMSCs.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / virology*
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Male
  • Papillomaviridae / classification
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomaviridae / pathogenicity
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / virology*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council, grant number K2015-57X-21044-07-3 ( The funder had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.