Cancer as a Virus

This is inspired by a recent post from Cristian Mihai where he makes a compelling plea for support of a cancer research campaign.

As a cancer survivor, I am supportive of organizations and initiatives which support cancer research and offer patient support services.  There is now a global campaign known as iCancer which was established to fund research into a potential treatment for the cancer that killed Steve Jobs.

In 1966, Peyton Rous and Charles B. Huggins were presented with the Nobel Prize for their work in Physiology or Medicine due to their research regarding the viral behavior of different types of cancers.  In his acceptance speech, Mr. Rous stated that “the study of tumor viruses is a central area of modern cancer research. Two developments are responsible for this remarkable change. Recent developments in microbial genetics have lead to reinterpretation of the virus concept itself.

It turns out that certain types of virus can introduce parts of their own genetic material into a cell without killing it or inhibiting its multiplication. The virus material thus introduced may become actually integrated with the gene material of the recipient cell and behave as a new hereditary factor. Virus infection can thus lead to a permanent change in some cellular characteristics. This re-evaluation of the virus concept made it possible to understand how a tumor virus might change the regulated behavior of normal cells to the malignant proliferation characteristic of cancer cells.”

Well, this answered my question as to how cancers become hereditary.



  I am a strong believer in individual accountability and collective action.  When not reading, working or blogging, I’m supporting my favorite charities: Teen Living Programs where I am a volunteer and Executive Board member and YWCA Chicago where I am an Associate Board Member. I am passionate about causes related to supporting youth, women and families. Particularly in the areas of education, social services and housing. I can be reached at if you would like to know more about my charities or the blog.

Categories: Professional Development

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