Clonally transmissible cancer
A transmissible cancer is a cancer cell or cluster of cancer cells that can be transferred between individuals without the involvement of an infectious agent, such as an oncovirus. Transmission of cancer between humans is rare.
Contagious cancers are known to occur in dogs, Tasmanian devils, Syrian hamsters, and some marine bivalves including soft-shell clams. These cancers have a relatively stable genome as they are transmitted.
In humans, a significant fraction of Kaposi's sarcoma occurring after transplantation may be due to tumorous outgrowth of donor cells. Although Kaposi's sarcoma is caused by a virus (Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus), in these cases, it appears likely that transmission of virus-infected tumor cells—rather than the free virus—caused tumors in the transplant recipients.
- 4 people received different organ transplants (liver, both lungs and kidneys) in 2007 from a 53-year-old woman who had recently died from intracranial bleeding. Before transplantation, the organ donor was deemed to have no signs of cancer upon medical examination. Later, the organ recipients developed metastatic breast cancer from the organs and 3 of them died from the cancer between 2009–2017.
- A case of parasite-to-host cancer transmission occurred in a 41-year-old man in Colombia with a compromised immune system due to HIV. The man's tumor cells were shown to have originated from the dwarf tapeworm, Hymenolepis nana.
- An undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma was transmitted from a patient to a surgeon when he injured his hand during an operation.
Clonally transmissible cancer, caused by a clone of malignant cells rather than a virus, is an extremely rare disease modality, with few transmissible cancers being known Animals that have undergone population bottlenecks may be at greater risks of contracting transmissible cancers. Because of their transmission, it was initially thought that these diseases were caused by the transfer of oncoviruses, in the manner of cervical cancer caused by HPV. However, canine transmissible venereal tumor mutes the expression of the immune response, whereas the Syrian hamster disease spreads due to lack of genetic diversity.
- Canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT) is sexually transmitted cancer in dogs. It was experimentally transplanted between dogs in 1876 by M. A. Novinsky (1841–1914). A single malignant clone of CTVT cells has colonized dogs worldwide, representing the oldest known malignant cell line in continuous propagation.
- Contagious reticulum cell sarcoma of the Syrian hamster can be transmitted from one Syrian hamster to another by means of the bite of the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
- Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a transmissible parasitic cancer in the Tasmanian devil.
- Soft-shell clams, Mya arenaria, have been found to be vulnerable to a transmissible neoplasm of the hemolymphatic system — effectively, leukemia.
- Horizontally transmitted cancers have also been discovered in three other species of marine bivalves: bay mussels (Mytilus trossulus), common cockles (Cerastoderma edule) and golden carpet shell clams (Polititapes aureus). The golden carpet shell clam cancer was found to have been transmitted from another species, the pullet carpet shell (Venerupis corrugata).
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