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Cancer Res. 1999 Mar 15;59(6):1188-91.

Quantitative analysis of cell-free Epstein-Barr virus DNA in plasma of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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Department of Chemical Pathology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.


Using real-time quantitative PCR, cell-free EBV DNA was detectable in the plasma of 96% (55 of 57) of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients (median concentration, 21058 copies/ml) and 7% (3 of 43) of controls (median concentration, 0 copies/ml). Advanced-stage NPC patients had higher plasma EBV DNA levels than those with early-stage disease. At 1 month after completion of radiotherapy, plasma EBV DNA was undetectable in 7 of 15 subjects (47%) but remained high in the remaining 8 subjects (53%). Clinical examination revealed that all of the former seven subjects had complete tumor regression, whereas six of the eight latter subjects exhibited evidence of disease persistence or had developed distant metastases. These results suggest that quantitative analysis of plasma EBV DNA may be a useful clinical and research tool in the screening and monitoring of NPC patients.

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