To determine whether the human T-cell lymphoma-leukemia virus (HTLV) is associated with particular cancers, patient sera were surveyed for HTLV-specific antibodies. An association was seen with aggressive cancers of mature T-cells, specifically Japanese adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and T-cell lymphosarcoma cell leukemia (TLCL), a similar cancer of Caribbean blacks. Ninety to 100% of these patients possessed HTLV-specific antibody. Forty-seven and 20% of relatives of ATL and TLCL patients, respectively, and 12 and 4% of healthy donors from ATL and TLCL endemic areas were also antibody positive. Visceral organ involvement, hypercalcemia, and skin manifestation, features of ATL and TLCL, were often seen in other antibody-positive patients. Childhood cancers, most cutaneous T-cell and all non-T-cell leukemias and lymphomas, myeloid leukemias, Hodgkin's disease, and solid tumors were not associated with HTLV. Healthy United States donors and European patients with nonmalignant diseases were antibody negative. HTLV is thus associated with a subtype of adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma, clustered in viral endemic areas, with apparent racial and geographic predilection.

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