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Cancer Sci. 2004 Jun;95(6):508-13.

Diagnostic value of serum EBV-DNA quantification and antibody to viral capsid antigen in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients.

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Division of Otolaryngology, Graduate School of Medicine, Cancer Research Institute, Kanazawa University, Ishikawa, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan.


We compared the amount of serum Epstein-Barr virus DNA (EBV-DNA) detected in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in a high-incidence area, represented by Taiwan, and a low-incidence area, represented by Japan, using real-time quantitative PCR. The median serum EBV-DNA value in 41 Japanese NPC cases was 5450 copies/ml, and that in in 23 Taiwanese cases was 2125 copies/ml. The median serum EBV-DNA value in all 64 NPC cases was significantly higher than in control groups. Using receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curves, the sensitivity and specificity of EBV-DNA quantification were determined (cut-off point, 6.87 copies/ml; sensitivity, 0.855; specificity, 0.885) and compared with those of EBV-viral-capsid-antigen (VCA) titers; the results showed that EBV-DNA was a more sensitive and specific parameter than EBV-VCA titer. Then, we analyzed 19 NPC patients in whom recurrence developed (11 Japanese and 8 Taiwanese), and 26 NPC patients in continuous remission. Although there was no significant difference in EBV-DNA values between Japanese and Taiwanese patients, the value was significantly higher in the 19 patients with recurrence than in those in remission. ROC analysis again revealed a higher diagnostic value of EBV-DNA than EBV-VCA. These results suggest EBV-DNA is a more reliable tumor marker than EBV-VCA in both high-incidence and low-incidence areas of NPC.

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