Did You Know That 15 to 20 Percent of Cancers Are Caused By Infections?

Dr. Andrew J. Dannenberg

Infections as a Cause of Cancer: A History and Outlook—Presentation @ AACR

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 5, 2007) — Cancer—popularly understood as a result of mutations or mistakes within the genetic code in cells—is also caused by infections from viruses, bacteria and parasites.

"I believe that, conservatively, 15 to 20 percent of all cancer is caused by infections, however, the number could be larger—maybe double," says Dr. Andrew J. Dannenberg, director of the Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Henry R. Erle, M.D.-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "Unfortunately, the public, as well as many health-care workers, are unaware of the significance of chronic infection as a potentially preventable cause of cancer."

During a speech at the American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) Sixth Annual International Conference Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, on December 5, 6:00 p.m. EST, at the Philadelphia Marriot Downtown, Dr. Dannenberg, who is also the meeting's program committee chairperson, will highlight the link between chronic infection, inflammation and cancer as an opportunity to reduce the global cancer burden. He will review research milestones that have provided the basis for vaccine development and anti-infectives to combat cancer. Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • Liver cancer, caused by chronic hepatitis B and C.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), linked to cervical, throat and oral cancer (oropharyngeal carcinoma).
  • A form of gastric cancer, called adenocarcinoma, and a form of lymphoma, called MALT lymphoma, that have been linked to Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
  • Bladder cancer, caused by chronic infection with Schistosome parasites.
  • How inflammation caused by infections may lead to a variety of cancers.

Of Special Interest:

Dr. Dannenberg believes that recent evidence linking HPV to throat and oral cancer—not only to cervical cancer—suggests that adolescent boys in addition to girls may benefit from being vaccinated against HPV.

To contact Dr. Dannenberg, please call AACR's Press Office at (215) 409-4766; or Andrew Klein at (212) 821-0560 or ank2017@med.cornell.edu.

For more information, patients may call (866) NYP-NEWS.

American Association for Cancer Research

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes nearly 26,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health-care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication, CR, is a magazine for cancer survivors, patient advocates, their families, physicians, and scientists. It provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances—from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth, and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally-conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian, which is ranked sixth on U.S.News & World Report's list of top hospitals, also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Cornell University is the first in the U.S. to offer a M.D. degree overseas. For more information, visit www.nyp.org and www.med.cornell.edu.
Andrew Klein

Weill Cornell Medicine
Office of External Affairs
Phone: (646) 962-9476