We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Types of Cancer Viruses?

By L. Baran
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The numerous different types of cancer that can affect the human body have a multitude of known and unknown causes. One known phenomenon that can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer is the presence of a virus in the body that alters the way in which cells grow and divide. Cancer viruses are types of viral infections that are known to alter the makeup of cells, so that they are more likely to behave erratically, resulting in tumor formation. There are two distinct types of cancer viruses, known as DNA viruses and RNA viruses.

Most viruses that affect humans are not capable of causing cancer, and those that can will not do so in every person. Since cancer is the result of a combination of many factors, both genetic and environmental, viruses alone cannot be singled out as the primary cause for any disease. For a virus to cause tumor growth, it must enter a cell and alter its genetic material. This alters the way in which the cell operates, making it immune to anti-growth signals from the brain and to the cell aging process that prevents excessive division. The way in which a virus impacts a cell depends on whether it is a DNA or RNA virus.

DNA viruses place their genetic information directly into the nucleus of the body's cells. Such viruses include the human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes, the Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis B. HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, is known to be a potential cause of cervical cancer in women and is also associated with other cancers of the genital areas and the throat. Herpes is related to the development of a form of sarcoma known as Kaposi, in which abnormal tissue growth occurs underneath the skin.

More commonly known as mono, the Epstein-Barr virus is a very common infection related to herpes. It is transmitted through close human contact, such as kissing, and infects the body's B cells. While a high percentage of adults contract this virus at some time and experience very few side effects, a small number can go on to develop cancers known as Burkitt's lymphoma or nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Hepatitis B is one of the cancer viruses that targets a specific organ. It can result in liver cancer in patients experiencing repeated liver infections from the virus.

For RNA cancer viruses to infect their hosts, they must first change their RNA into DNA, then insert their genetic material into the cell. Hepatitis C is a type of RNA virus that acts much like hepatitis B, resulting in liver cancer. Another type, human T lymphotrophic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), attacks the lymphatic system and is associated with T-cell leukemia.

As of 2012, research into cancer viruses remains in its infancy, and treatments to target viral infections before they can cause cancer are still being developed. Some vaccines have been created to attempt to prevent viruses, such as HPV and hepatitis B, but no vaccine can provide complete protection. Early diagnosis and treatment are still the keys to increasing survival rates of all types of cancer.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.