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Title: Epstein-Barr virus serology as a potential screening marker for nasopharyngeal carcinoma among high-risk individuals from multiplex families in Taiwan.
Authors: Coghill AE,  Hsu WL,  Pfeiffer RM,  Juwana H,  Yu KJ,  Lou PJ,  Wang CP,  Chen JY,  Chen CJ,  Middeldorp JM,  Hildesheim A
Journal: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev
Date: 2014 Jul
Branches: BB, IIB
PubMed ID: 24769890
PMC ID: PMC4082438
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated cancer that is highly treatable when diagnosed early, with 5-year disease-free survival of approximately 90%. However, NPC is typically diagnosed at advanced stages, in which disease-free survival is <50%. There is, therefore, a need for clinical tools to assist in early NPC detection, particularly among high-risk individuals. METHODS: We evaluated the ability of anti-EBV IgA antibodies to detect incident NPC among high-risk Taiwanese individuals. NPC cases (N = 21) and age- and sex-matched controls (N = 84) were selected. Serum collected before NPC diagnosis was tested for ELISA-based IgA antibodies against the following EBV peptides: EBNA1, VCAp18, EAp138, Ead_p47, and VCAp18 + EBNA1 peptide mixture. The sensitivity, specificity, and screening program parameters were calculated. RESULTS: EBNA1 IgA had the best performance characteristics. At an optimized threshold value, EBNA1 IgA measured at baseline identified 80% of the high-risk individuals who developed NPC during follow-up (80% sensitivity). However, approximately 40% of high-risk individuals who did not develop NPC also tested positive (false positives). Application of EBNA1 IgA as a biomarker to detect incident NPC in a previously unscreened, high-risk population revealed that 164 individuals needed to be screened to detect 1 NPC and that 69 individuals tested positive per case detected. CONCLUSIONS: EBNA1 IgA proved to be a sensitive biomarker for identifying incident NPC, but future work is warranted to develop more specific screening tools to decrease the number of false positives. IMPACT: Results from this study could inform decisions about screening biomarkers and referral thresholds for future NPC early-detection program evaluations.