Approximately 12% of all human cancers are caused by oncoviruses. Human viral oncogenesis is complex, and only a small percentage of the infected individuals develop cancer, often many years to decades after the initial infection. This reflects the multistep nature of viral oncogenesis, host genetic variability, and the fact that viruses contribute to only a portion of the oncogenic events. In this review, the Hallmarks of Cancer framework of Hanahan and Weinberg (2000 and 2011) is used to dissect the viral, host, and environmental cofactors that contribute to the biology of multistep oncogenesis mediated by established human oncoviruses. The viruses discussed include Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs), hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV, respectively), human T cell lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1), and Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV).
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