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Cancer Res. 1999 Nov 1;59(21):5452-5.

Quantitative and temporal correlation between circulating cell-free Epstein-Barr virus DNA and tumor recurrence in nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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


Recently, cell-free EBV DNA has been detected in the plasma and serum of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We studied the relationship between plasma/serum EBV DNA and tumor recurrence. Using real-time quantitative PCR, the median plasma EBV DNA concentration in 10 patients with tumor recurrence was determined to be 32,350 copies/ml, whereas that in 15 patients in continuous remission for a mean period of 2 years was 0 copy/ml. Longitudinal follow-up of 17 NPC patients revealed 6 individuals with tumor recurrence and 11 patients who remained in remission. Significant elevations in serum EBV DNA, sometimes up to 6 months before detectable clinical deterioration, were observed in the patients who subsequently developed tumor recurrence. Continuously low or undetectable levels of serum EBV DNA were observed in the patients who remained in remission. These results suggest that plasma/serum cell-free EBV DNA may be a valuable tool for the monitoring of NPC patients for the early detection of tumor recurrence.

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