Epstein-Barr can cause several types of cancer. Even mild or non life threatening infections with EBV can, occasionally be associated with the development of serious complications from the infection. Although EBV usually targets the lymphocytes, a particular blood cell involved in the immune response, almost all organ systems can ultimately be affected by EBV. EBV is a type of the herpes Virus (Herpes Virus 4).
The discovery of Epstein-Barr has helped with the discovery and understanding of certain types of cancer. The virus is implicated in Burkitt's Lymphoma, lymphoma's in AIDS patients, and one half of all Hodgkin's disease patients. They also learned that the EBV virus does in fact contribute directly to the survival of Burkitt lymphoma tumors.