Malaria and Cancer: a critical review on the established associations and new perspectives

Toby Ellis, Elvis Eze, Bahijja Tolulope Raimi-Abraham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Cancer and malaria both have high incidence rates and are leading causes of mortality worldwide, especially in low and middle-income countries with reduced access to the quality healthcare. The objective of this critical review was to summarize key associations and new perspectives between the two diseases as is reported in existing literature. Methods: A critical review of research articles published between 1st January 2000 – 1st July 2020 which yielded 1753 articles. These articles were screened based on a precise inclusion criteria. Eighty-nine eligible articles were identified and further evaluated. Results: Many articles reported anti-cancer activities of anti-malarial medicines, including Artemisinin and its derivatives. Other articles investigated the use of chemotherapy in areas burdened by malaria, treatment complications that malaria may cause for cancer patients as well as ways to circumvent cancer related drug resistance. Potential novel targets for cancer treatment, were identified namely oncofoetal chondroitin sulphate and haem, as well as the use of circumsporozoite proteins. A number of articles also discussed Burkitt lymphoma or febrile neutropenia. Conclusions: Overall, excluding for Burkitt lymphoma, the relationship between cancer and malaria requires further extensive research in order to define association. There great potential promising new novel anti-cancer therapies using anti-malarial drugs. Graphical abstract: Created using BioRender[Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalInfectious Agents and Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Burkitt’s lymphoma
  • Cancer
  • Comorbidity
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Malaria
  • Neutropenia


Dive into the research topics of 'Malaria and Cancer: a critical review on the established associations and new perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this