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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Precision Medicine-Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer Development and Actionable Genes. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Oncogenic Viruses

Viruses were once thought to be the sole cause of cancer. Although we now know that to be untrue, there are cases where viruses can induce cancer formation. Instead of killing the host cell, some viruses are able to incorporate their nucleic acid into the sequence of the human genome. If the virus is able to force the human cell to grow uncontrollably, it can lead to tumor formation. Integration into the host genome is required for cancer formation to be induced. Often the body’s immune system is able to clear the virus before integration into the genome thereby preventing cancer formation.
Roughly 20% of all cancers worldwide are attributable to the presence of a virus. Well known viruses that induce cancer formation include human papilloma virus (HPV) which can cause cervical and throat cancer and hepatitis C virus (HCV) which can lead to liver carcinoma. There is vaccination to prevent numerous types of HPV. There are also now antiviral agents that can cure HCV infection. These medical advancements will lead to a reduction in the number of cancers due to HPV and HCV infection.