Long-term prognostic effects of plasma epstein-barr virus DNA by minor groove binder-probe real-time quantitative PCR on nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy

Jin-Ching Lin, Wen-Yi Wang, Wen-Miin Liang, Hsin-Yi Chou, Jian-Sheng Jan, Rong-San Jiang, Ju-Yu Wang, Chih-Wen Twu, Kai-Li Liang, Jeffrey Chao, Wu-Chung Shen
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2007 August 1, 68 (5): 1342-8

PURPOSE: To evaluate the long-term prognostic impact of plasma Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA concentration measured by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RTQ-PCR) in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Epstein-Barr virus DNA was retrospectively measured from stock plasma of 152 biopsy-proven NPC patients with Stage II-IV (M0) disease with a RTQ-PCR using the minor groove binder-probe. All patients received CCRT with a median follow-up of 78 months. We divided patients into three subgroups: (1) low pretreatment EBV DNA (<1,500 copies/mL) and undetectable posttreatment EBV DNA (pre-L/post-U), (2) high pretreatment EBV DNA (> or =1,500 copies/mL) and undetectable posttreatment EBV DNA (pre-H/post-U), and (3) low or high pretreatment EBV DNA and detectable posttreatment EBV DNA (pre-L or H/post-D) for prognostic analyses.

RESULTS: Epstein-Barr virus DNA (median concentration, 573 copies/mL; interquartile range, 197-3,074) was detected in the pretreatment plasma of 94.1% (143/152) of patients. After treatment, plasma EBV DNA decreased or remained 0 for all patients and was detectable in 31 patients (20.4%) with a median concentration 0 copy/mL (interquartile range, 0-0). The 5-year overall survival rates of the pre-L/post-U, pre-H/post-U, and pre-L or H/post-D subgroups were 87.2%, 71.0%, and 38.7%, respectively (p < 0.0001). The relapse-free survival showed similar results with corresponding rates of 85.6%, 75.9%, and 26.9%, respectively (p < 0.0001). Multivariate Cox analysis confirmed the superior effects of plasma EBV DNA compared to other clinical parameters in prognosis prediction.

CONCLUSION: Plasma EBV DNA is the most valuable prognostic factor for NPC. More chemotherapy should be considered for patients with persistently detectable EBV DNA after CCRT.

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