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Cancer Detect Prev. 1981;4(1-4):307-12.

The reliability of IgA antibody to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) capsid antigen as a test for the diagnosis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).


Since patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma were first reported to have elevated levels of IgA antibody to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in their sera, workers in a number of countries have studied the possibility that this assay could be used in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with this disease. In the United States, a collaborative project involving seven centers has been established to investigate the potential value of IgA antibody to EBV viral capsid antigen (VCA) as a clinical tool. In this report, we will summarize the results obtained from three studies: a comparison of EBV serology in three laboratories; a retrospective study of 37 nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients and controls, and a prospective study of 126 NPC patients and 683 controls, including 149 patients with other malignancies involving the head and neck. The study of testing comparability in three laboratories demonstrated the feasibility of using this assay in a number of laboratories. The retrospective study confirmed the difference in IgA antibody titers between NPC patients and matched controls. The prospective study showed a relationship between IgA antibody titers and histopathology but not disease stage. IgA antibody titers were elevated more frequently in patients with nonkeratinizing or poorly differentiated types of NPC than for the well-differentiated squamous cell carcinomas. While IgA antibodies to EBV VCA appear to be of value in the early detection and diagnosis of NPC, it is possible that additional serologic tests for immunity to EBV, such as IgG antibody to VCA or early antigen (EA), will improve even further the clinical value of EBV serology in the management of NPC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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