Viruses and bacteria

Cancer is not infectious. This means you cannot pass cancer on to other people. But a small number of viruses can increase your risk of getting cancer.

Viruses may cause changes to the cells in your body, making them more likely to become cancerous.

One of the most common viruses that can increase the risk of cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV). Some types of HPV increase the risk of cancer in the:

Other viruses that are linked to cancer are the:

There is also a common bacterial infection called H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori). Over a long period of time, it can increase the risk of stomach cancer.

Not everyone infected with these viruses or bacteria will develop cancer. Speak to your doctor if you are worried about your own risk.

Back to Potential causes of cancer

Low immunity

People with low immunity are at a higher risk of developing some types of cancer.

Human papilloma virus (HPV)

Human papilloma virus (or HPV) is a common infection. Some types of HPV can increase the risk of developing cancer.

HPV vaccines

There are two vaccines currently available across the UK to prevent human papilloma virus (HPV).