1.5million Cancer Deaths Caused by Curable Infections; LOW-COST VACCINES COULD HELP PREVENT MANY CASES

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

1.5million Cancer Deaths Caused by Curable Infections; LOW-COST VACCINES COULD HELP PREVENT MANY CASES


Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY

ONE in six cancers is caused by potentially preventable or treatable infections, international research today reveals.

It has been estimated infections, including the human papilloma virus and hepatitis are responsible for two million new cases of cancer worldwide every year.

And, of the 7.5million deaths from cancer worldwide in 2008, an estimated 1.5million were due to potentially preventable or treatable infections.

The overwhelming majority of these cases of cancer occur in less developed regions, the research, which is published in The Lancet Oncology, found.

The study comes as scientists at Cardiff University have discovered the potential of using the body's own cells, which normally attack common infections, to target cancer instead. It is thought these T-cell receptors could be used to treat those cancers for which few disease-specific targets, which treatments can latch onto, are available.

James Noble, chief executive of biotech company Immunocore, which is involved in the T-cell research with Cardiff University, said: "The power of this new technology lies in its ability to be used for a host of cancers that are currently very difficult to treat."

The Lancet Oncology research estimated that 16% of all cancers worldwide in 2008 were infection-related; the proportion of cancers related to infection was about three times higher in developing countries than in developed countries, like the UK. Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in France and lead authors of the study, said: "Infections with certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites are one of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide.

"Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide. …

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