Clinical utility of circulating Epstein-Barr virus DNA analysis for the management of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Sherwood Y. H. Fung, Jacky W. K. Lam, Kwan Chee Allen Chan


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is one of the commonest cancers in Southern China. The carcinogenesis is closely associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. In endemic regions with high incidence of NPC, EBV genome can be detected in virtually all NPC tumor tissues. Over the last decade, circulating cell-free EBV DNA has been developed as a tumor marker for NPC. Plasma EBV DNA analysis using real-time PCR has been shown to be useful for early detection, prognostication and monitoring of treatment response of NPC. In this review, the clinical applications of EBV DNA analysis in the management of NPC would be discussed.