Use of plasma Epstein-Barr virus DNA monitoring as a tumor marker in follow-up of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma: Preliminary results and report of two cases

Oezyar E., Gueltekin A., Alp A., Hascelik G., Ugur O., Atahan I. L.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL MARKERS, vol.22, no.3, pp.194-199, 2007 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Recent studies suggest that plasma Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA may reflect tumor burden in patients with nasopharyngeal cancer. A prospective study was initiated to investigate this correlation in 125 patients (34 pretreatment [Group A], 78 in remission [Group B] and 13 relapsed [Group C]) and 19 healthy controls. In group A, EBV DNA was detected in plasma samples of 24 (70%) patients. In Group B, EBV DNA was detected in 7 patients (range 77-13,731 copies/mL) and further imaging in all but one of these patients revealed active disease confirmed by ultrasound-guided fine-needle biopsy. There was only one false-positive case; this patient is currently under follow-up. Here we describe 2 of the 7 patients with detectable plasma EBV DNA in whom recurrence was documented by PET scan during follow-up. Our results showed that in group B the positive predictive value of quantitative analysis of plasma EBV DNA was 85%. Quantitative analysis of EBV DNA in plasma seems to become an integral part of screening, staging, monitoring, and prediction of relapse in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. However, previous studies cannot be considered definitive and more reports on the use of this technique are urgently needed from both endemic and non-endemic regions.