Viruses and cancer have had a long and complicated relationship dating back decades. Viruses such as the flu are frequently unwelcome intruder that worsens some cancer symptoms or treatment side effects in cancer patients. Some viruses are even capable of causing cancer. However, several viruses have aided cancer research and have been used to treat certain cancers. Healthowealth has provided you with this article to clarify this question Is cancer a virus?!
Relation between cancer and virus!
Now, a new virus has emerged with specific and significant implications for cancer patients—so far, none of them are positive. Cancer patients are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and those with blood cancers and underlying chronic lung disease who develop lung cancer may experience more severe symptoms from the virus.
Experts believe that immune system weaknesses and reduced lung function are at the root of these higher risks.
However, so much about COVID-19 remains unknown, making it hard to anticipate its long-term influence on the still-evolving interaction between viruses and cancer. Will people whose respiratory systems have been harmed by the virus be at a higher risk of developing cancer? Is cancer a virus? How long are people immune to the virus when they recover? Will we discover anything about the virus that might lead to new cancer treatments? “This is a novel virus, and carcinogenesis takes years to evolve and analyze,” explains Shayma Master Kazmi, MD, Medical Oncologist at Philadelphia hospital. “We will be monitoring COVID-19’s long-term consequences.”
Understanding the long-term impact of COVID-19 on cancer and answering that Is cancer a virus? cancer patients would need researchers to consider the known connections between cancer and viruses in general.
Viruses were originally connected to cancer in the early 1900s when scientists discovered that a virus in a chicken tumor could be spread to other chicks. The finding sparked a new field of study known as tumor virology, or oncovirology, which eventually led to the identification of oncovirus viruses that may cause cancer in people. There are currently seven recognized oncoviruses. The following are some of the most common:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been related to nearly all incidences of cervical cancer as well as a high percentage of many other malignancies in men and women, including those of the throat, anus, penis, and vagina.
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most common cause of liver cancer.
- HCV infection can cause liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Because it weakens the immune system, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) dramatically raises cancer risk. People living with HIV are more likely to acquire lymphomas and other malignancies.
- The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) increases the likelihood of lymphomas and stomach cancer.
When a virus invades the body, it may modify the DNA in those cells, allowing the virus to live and multiply. Cellular DNA changes or mutations have the ability to transform normal healthy cells into cancer cells. Viruses can also produce inflammation, which is a known risk factor for some malignancies.
Most viruses, however, do not cause cancer, and most malignancies are not caused by viruses. There is also no evidence that being infected with common viruses that cause cold or flu-like symptoms increases your risk of cancer, “unless that tendency is revealed to be related to a defect in the immune system,” according to Maurie Markman, MD, President of Medicine & Science at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).
Currently available cancer vaccines!
Preventative vaccinations are created by scientists utilizing weakened or harmless variants of viruses to provide the immune system with the knowledge it needs to detect and combat possible dangers. Therapeutic vaccinations force the immune system to target cancer cells. Here are four cancer vaccines meant to cure or prevent the disease:
This was the first therapeutic cancer vaccine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sipileucel-T is a treatment for some types of prostate cancer that employs a patient’s re-engineered cells that are injected back into the body to assist stimulate the immune system.
Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG)
A TB preventative vaccine, BCG is also utilized as a therapeutic vaccination in the extremely early stages of bladder cancer. To draw immune cells to the bladder tumor, the medication is supplied straight to it.
Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV)
In 1981, the FDA authorized the first cancer vaccine. To prevent liver cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children take the vaccination shortly after birth.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
These preventive vaccinations are intended to protect against infections caused by HPV strains that cause a variety of malignancies.
Vaccines to cure or prevent HIV, HCV, EBV, and other cancer-related viruses have yet to be created.
Cancer treatment using viruses!
Doctors and researchers noticed that tumors reversed in some individuals who got viral infections at the turn of the nineteenth century. Scientists have been looking for methods to employ viruses to either treat or prevent cancer since that time. However, only one oncolytic viral medication, talimogene laherparepvec, has been authorized by the FDA to treat certain types of melanomas. The medicine, which is made from a weakened, or attenuated, herpes virus, kills cancer cells inside melanoma tumors and recruits immune cells to that site.
Virus treatment for cancer is still being researched, with weaker forms of viruses that may cause major infections such as measles and polio being used. Duke University is conducting a high-profile clinical experiment to see if an attenuated poliovirus might cure glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer with an extremely poor five-year survival rate. Several patients in the experiment, which was shown on 60 Minutes, had the weakened virus injected straight into their brain tumors. Early findings from early treatments were positive enough for the FDA to grant the project “breakthrough status,” which means that evidence suggests “the treatment may offer a considerable improvement over existing conventional therapy.”
While all of the patients in the 60 Minutes piece died as a result of their condition, some of them survived much beyond the typical 15-month life expectancy following their diagnosis. One patient, who was 20 at the time of her treatment at Duke, died in March, eight years later.
Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center are investigating whether a weakened adenovirus, which causes many common colds, may be used to treat brain cancer. Adenoviruses are relatively safe, which reduces the possibility of major adverse effects.
Despite the fact that research into viruses to treat cancer has resulted in only one licensed medicine in the United States, numerous clinical trials are still underway to investigate how oncolytic viral therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies against different tumors.
“The concept that attenuated viruses may be used as a technique to treat malignant illness is still being investigated,” Dr. Markman explains. “While development efforts and results in this sector have been limited, it is likely that such treatments may find a vital place as a component of future cancer care with increased understanding of the core biology of cancer as well as technological developments.”
What’s the distinction?
Some names and phrases used to describe cancer-related viruses and therapies may seem similar, but their meanings are distinct. As an example:
Cancer can be caused by oncoviruses or oncogenic viruses. Oncolytic viruses have the potential to cure cancer. When a cancer cell is exposed to an oncolytic virus, it breaks down and dies. Oncovirology is the study of viruses for cancer treatment.
If you are a cancer survivor or are currently undergoing treatment and are worried about how the COVID-19 issue may affect you or your care, please contact your care team.
If, after reading the article “Is cancer a virus? “, you liked it and became interested in studying in other fields of health and medicine, we suggest you read the following articles from the category cancer on our website.