Infectious Agents and Cancer


Figure: An infographic of 2012 Global Infection-Related Data. For infections that attributed to cancer incidence, 91% of those were H. pylori, hepatitis B and C viruses, and human papillomaviruses. Of 14 million cancer cases worldwide, 1 in 6 diagnoses were attributed to infections. 44% of new cancer cases attributed to infection occurred between 50 and 69 years of age. The high burden of HPV-attributable cancer (predominantly cervical cancer) in women almost exactly counterbalanced the excess in men for all other infections, so that overall the numbers of cancers attributable to all infections were similar for both sexes. The majority of cases were gastric, liver, and cervix uteri cancers. Less-developed regions had a higher percentage of infection-related cancers than more developed regions. Source: Plummer M, de Martel C, Vignat J, Ferlay J, Bray F, Franceschi S. Global burden of cancers attributable to infections in 2012: a synthetic analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2016 Sep; 4(9): e609-16.

Global Infection-Related Data
Click to enlarge.

An estimated 16.1% of newly diagnosed cancers may be attributable to infections. Our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of cancer induction by infectious agents, interactions between the environment and host genetics, and potential roles of cofactors (known and unknown) is limited and warrants further elucidation. Moreover, technological advances have led to the discovery of previously unknown and unsuspected oncogenic infections in recent years, prompting the idea that additional infection-associated cancers might still be discovered. Epidemiologic studies on this topic could play important roles in answering both old and new questions, which could augment current knowledge and open new areas of research. Understanding the role of infection in cancer may result in discoveries that lead to better diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancers, particularly in resource-poor countries.

Return to Top

Funding Opportunities

NCI-sponsored Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) related to infectious diseases and risk of cancer include:

  • HIV and Hepatitis B Co-Infection: Advancing HBV Functional Cure through Clinical Research - expires May 8, 2020, unless reissued
  • "High" or "Medium" Priority AIDS Research on Non-AIDS-defining or AIDS-defining Cancers – expires September 8, 2019, unless reissued
  • International Research in Infectious Diseases, including AIDS - expires August 23, 2019, unless reissued

EGRP encourages investigator-initiated grant applications on infectious agents and cancer. It also joins with other NCI Divisions, and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund grant applications submitted in response to FOAs. View the full list of EGRP FOAs.

The NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also contains information about research funding opportunities related to infectious agents.)

NIH has also partnered with the International AIDS Society and the NIH-funded Centers for AIDS Research to support innovative research projects to introduce scientists from other disciplines to the field of HIV research.External Web Site Policy

Return to Top

Research Resources

  • AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource
    A collection of tissues and biological fluids with associated clinical and follow-up data from patients with HIV-related malignancies. Specimens and clinical data are available for research studies, particularly those that translate basic research findings to clinical application.
  • Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Network of Integrated Clinical SystemsExternal Web Site Policy
    Provides integrated clinical data from the large and diverse population of HIV-infected people in the modern HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART) era who are receiving care at one of the many U.S. federally funded CFAR sites and data to address the challenging and rapidly evolving issues in HIV care and research.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Research Resources
    A compilation of scientific literature, laboratory and clinical research support and tools, and training opportunities.
  • NIH Common Fund Human Microbiome Project
    Provides links to funding opportunities and research resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and analysis of their role in human health and disease.

Return to Top

Public Resources

Return to Top

Selected Publications

Return to Top

EGRP-Supported Webinar Series

Return to Top


Return to Top