Oncoviruses and melanomas: A retrospective study and literature review

J Med Virol. 2023 Jan;95(1):e27924. doi: 10.1002/jmv.27924. Epub 2022 Jun 20.


The role of human oncoviruses in melanoma has been poorly investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between oncoviruses and melanomas searching for human papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein Barr virus (EBV), and human herpesvirus 8DNA in melanoma specimens. Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue specimens of cutaneous, mucosal, and ocular melanomas (OM) were selected from the Pathology Departments of the Galliera Hospital (Genoa) and the University Hospitals of Turin and Cagliari. Cutaneous and mucosal nevi have been collected as controls. The oncoviruses search has been performed with different polymerase chain reaction reagent kits. Fifty-four melanomas (25 mucosal, 12 ocular, and 17 cutaneous) and 26 nevi (15 cutaneous and 11 mucosal) specimens were selected. The detection rate for one of the investigated oncoviruses was 17% in mucosal, 20% in ocular, and 0% in cutaneous melanomas (CMs). Despite the differences between groups seeming remarkable, there was no statistical significance (p > 0.5). Our data do not support a primary role of oncoviruses in melanoma carcinogenesis; however, the finding of HPV and EBV DNA in a considerable fraction of mucosal and OMs suggests that these viruses may act as cofactors in the development of extra-CMs.

Keywords: Epstein Barr virus (EBV); cutaneous melanoma; human papillomavirus (HPV); mucosal melanoma; ocular melanoma; oncoviruses.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / epidemiology
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Nevus*
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Retroviridae
  • Skin Neoplasms* / epidemiology


  • DNA, Viral