Tonsillectomy and the incidence of various types of cancer

Immunol Res. 2021 Dec;69(6):467-470. doi: 10.1007/s12026-021-09230-3. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


A potential connection between tonsillectomy and the development of various cancer types has repeatedly been reported in the scientific literature, but many studies have contradicted these observations. Thus, we have no clear evidence, neither to firmly support nor to refute the above-mentioned connection. Here, I suggest that the main reason for the lack of clearer evidence is that the investigations have so far mainly used incorrect sample groups. I propose that individual differences in the tonsils' involvement in immune reactions should be taken into account to solve this long-standing puzzle.

Keywords: Cancer; NK cells; T cells; Tonsillectomy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology
  • Palatine Tonsil / surgery
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*