Infectious causes of cancer fact sheet

KEY MESSAGES

  • 3.3% of all cancers in Australia can be attributed to infectious agents.
  • Cancers caused by infectious agents are more prevalent in developing regions of the world.
  • Infections that cause cancer are common among humans. However, most people’s immune systems will clear these infections. It is chronic infection with viruses, bacteria, and parasites that leads to the development of cancer in a small proportion of the population.
  • All cervical cancer, adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphomas, and Kaposi’s sarcomas can be attributed to an infectious agent.
  • Effective vaccinations are available for human papillomavirus strains responsible for most of cervical cancer, and the hepatitis B virus.
  • Effective antiviral treatments have been developed for hepatitis B virus, human immunodeficiency virus 1, and hepatitis C virus.

Infectious causes of cancer factsheet

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