One in every six cancers worldwide is caused by an infection that is preventable or treatable, according to new estimates published in the journal Lancet Oncology. The research indicates infections are attributable for approximately 2 million new cancer cases every year.
"Infections with certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites are one of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide,” lead authors Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), France, said in a statement. They added that “application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on future burden of cancer worldwide.”
Cancers caused by infections generally have a higher mortality rate than other cancers, according to the researchers. Of the 7.5 million deaths from cancer worldwide in 2008, approximately 1.5 million were due to infections.