Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a common cancer afflicting the Chinese, especially Southern Chinese. The cancer can be effectively treated by radiotherapy. When given at an early disease stage, this treatment can achieve a long-term disease free survival of over 80%, but the survival rate declines rapidly as the disease advances. Thus, early diagnosis and treatment are of pivotal importance in the control of this cancer. However, early symptoms of the cancer are often innocuous, and hence early diagnosis depends in the first instance on a recognition of the strong ethnic bias of the cancer and a heightened sense of awareness of its early symptoms by clinicians and the public. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) serology serves a useful role in the subsequent diagnostic work up in that it can strengthen clinical suspicion and provide an additional indication for further clinical investigations, but a confirmed diagnosis of NPC is only achieved by histopathology. Serology is also being increasingly used in population screening to identify those who have occult disease and/or those who have an increased risk of having the cancer. This lecture aims to highlight the principle features of, and recent development in, serological diagnosis of NPC.

Copyright 1997 Hong Kong Medical Technology Association .
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