Professor James Holland, former Director of Cancer Research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and former president of both the American Society for Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), reported at the annual meeting of the AACR being held this week in Philadelphia that he has found the human breast cancer virus (HMTV) in 94% of women with Stage IV breast cancer.

Dr. Holland first became interested in the human breast cancer virus more than 40 years ago during the early years of his career when he was pioneering combination chemotherapy in the treatment of childhood leukemia.  While Holland continued to pursuit the development of improved treatments for patients with leukemia, he also became intrigued by the work of scientists like Dr. John Bittner who were investigating the role of tumor viruses as a cause of human cancer.  In the run up to the passage of the National Cancer Act of 1971, Holland testified before Congress about the importance of research on tumor viruses, especially the breast cancer virus.

In the past 20 years, Holland and his colleagues (Pogo, Etkind, Melena, Levine) from around the country have found the breast cancer virus in 40-70% of women with breast cancer.  While the final proof linking a virus to human cancer awaits one final study, data continue to converge in such a way that it is increasingly likely that this virus, which is very similar to the virus that unquestionably causes breast cancer in mice, rats, cats and monkeys, plays a significant role as a cause of cancer in women … and in men!

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