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Breast Cancer: Is There a Viral Connection?

Akhter, Javed PhD*; Ali Aziz, Mohammed Ashraf MD*; Al Ajlan, Abdulaziz MD*; Tulbah, Asma MD, FRCPA; Akhtar, Mohammed MD, FCAP, FRCPA, FRCPath

doi: 10.1097/PAP.0000000000000037
Review Articles

Viruses are known to be etiologically related to several types of human cancer. In several published studies, viruses such as human mammary tumor virus, human papillomaviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, human cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and measles virus have been implicated in the pathogenesis of a subset of breast cancers (BC). However, these studies have produced conflicting results, causing considerable controversy. In this context, recent demonstration of elevated levels of mutagenic antiviral enzyme APOBEC3B in a majority of BCs is a highly significant development, as it provides a possible mechanism for development of large numbers of mutations (kataegis) that characterize many of the BCs. It has also provided further impetus for revaluating the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of BC.

*Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Mohammed Akhtar, MD, FCAP, FRCPA, FRCPath, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (MBC 10), King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, P.O. Box 3354, Riyadh 11211, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (e-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.