Viruses and Bacteria


Viruses and Bacteria



Viral and bacterial infections have been identified as causes of lymphomas, cervical, penile, anal, head, neck, liver and stomach cancers. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV or AIDS virus) interferes with the body’s ability to fight infection. Research to determine other cancers caused by viruses and bacteria is ongoing.

Screening tests such as the Pap test for cervical cancer can detect pre-cancerous cells which can be treated before they become cancerous. Vaccines have been developed for protection against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which causes liver cancer. Most provinces in Canada have a vaccination program for protection against the human papilloma viruses (HPV) which cause cervical and penile cancer. Free HPV vaccines are available for girls starting in grade five. This program is also available for boys in some provinces.


Risk Reduction

The best way to reduce the risk of a cancer related to viral or bacterial infections is:

  • Follow a healthy lifestyle to ensure a strong immune system
  • treat infections promptly
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cough into a tissue or your arm rather than your hand
  • Do not engage in unprotected sex (HIV and HPV)
  • Do not share needles



Canadian Cancer Society

American Cancer Society

Winnipeg Free Press “Alberta joins the movement to vaccinate boys for HPV”, Dec. 6, 2013