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Chin J Cancer. 2011 Feb;30(2):120-3.

Detection of Stage I nasopharyngeal carcinoma by serologic screening and clinical examination.

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  • 1Cancer Research Institute of Zhongshan City, Zhongshan, Guangdong 528403, PR China.


In a prospective study, 42 048 adults residing in Zhongshan City, Guangdong, China, were followed for 16 years, and 171 of them developed nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Although Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody levels of the cohort fluctuated, the antibody levels of 93% of the patients with NPC were raised and maintained at high levels for up to 10 years prior to diagnosis. This suggests that the serologic window affords an opportunity to monitor tumor progression during the preclinical stage of NPC development, facilitating early NPC detection. We reviewed the clinical records of the 171 patients with NPC in the prospective study to assess the efficacy of early NPC detection by serologic screening and clinical examination. Of the 171 patients, 51 had Stage I tumor (44 were among the 73 patients detected by clinical examination and 7 were among the 98 patients presented to outpatient department). Initial serologic screening predicted 58 (95.1%) of the 61 patients detected within 2 years. The risk of the screened population (58/3093) raised 13 times relative to cohort (61/42 048) during this period. Clinical examination detected all the 58 predicted cases, and 35 (60.3%) of which were diagnosed with Stage I tumor. The serologic prediction rate fell to 33.6% (37/110) 2 to 16 years after screening. The proportion of cases detected by clinical examination fell to 40.5% (15/37). The proportion of Stage I tumors among the cases detected by clinical examination during both periods remained at about 60%. We concluded that early detection of NPC can be accomplished by repeated serologic screening to maintain high prediction rates and by promptly examining screened subjects to detect tumors before the symptoms develop.

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