Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 2000; 24(Supplement 1).

Genetic and Viral factors in Carcinogenesis

G de Thé

Institut Pasteur, Paris, France,

The genetic basis of the carcinogenic process is gaining new insights every day, but this does not explain the extreme geographic variability of most cancer types as observed around the world. In contrast, environmental carcinogens appear to play a crucial role in determining such prevalence. Among environmental factors, oncogenic viruses can be best traced and quantified at both individual and population levels, hence permitting their eventual control. EBV associated malignancies have been investigated in such a context. Burkitt’ Lymphoma, clearly linked to early EBV infection, and to heavy malaria burden, results from chromosomal translocation activating the c-myc oncogen. The relative impact of each environment or genetic factor has been evaluated, and will be presented. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) also results from an interplay between viral, environmental, and genetic factors. Chemical carcinogens and genotoxins, found in traditional food preparations, could would be responsible for precancerous lesions in susceptible individuals, the EBV acting possibly last toward clinical onset of the tumor. The control of this tumor, prevalent for very large populations in South East Asia, must take into account the above.

KEY WORDS: genetic cofactors, viral cofactors, environment.

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Paper presented at the International Symposium on Impact of Biotechnology on Cancer Diagnostic & Prognostic Indicators; Geneva, Switzerland; October 28 - 31, 2000; in the section on environment & lifestyle.