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May 1963

Viruses and Cancer

Author Affiliations


From the Medicine Branch and the Laboratory of Viral Oncology, National Cancer Institute.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(5):572-591. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620290038007

Introduction  There can be no doubt that viruses are a cause of cancer in certain animals.1-31 While the total process of oncogenesis may be a complex of many known factors such as chronic inflammation, hormonal influences, radiant energy, chemicals, x-irradiation, and the proper genetic constitution,32-34 the known virus-induced malignancies are the sole naturally occurring neoplasms of known and specific cause.6Facts relating viruses to tumor formation have accumulated rapidly during the last 25 years, largely through improved tissue culture techniques,14,35,36 electron microscopy,31,37-41 immunofluorescent microscopy, and ferritin antibody procedures in electron microscopy.42 Improved immunologic methods, the great advances in genetics and protein chemistry, and the demonstration of infectious nucleic acids43-51 are all responsible for provoking intense interest in the potential relationship between viruses and cancer in man.The purpose of this review is to trace the development of viral oncology which has led to