Introduction: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a multifactorial disease with genetic, viral, environmental and lifestyle-related risk factors. Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) can promote the oncogenic transformation of an infected cell into malignant. EBV encodes many stimulating products including Epstein–Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) which plays a key role in the regulation of gene expression and replication of the genome in the latent period of infection. EBNA-1 in serum and tumour tissue of NPC patients correlates with NPC prognosis. Moreover, the presence of EBV DNA in serum samples from NPC patients’ blood circulation can be used as an early marker in the diagnosis of NPC.
Objective: The objective of this study was to find effective methods for monitoring the progress of NPC patients undergoing radiotherapy and therapeutic efficacy by observing the changes in EBV DNA in serum and saliva.
Methodology: The pre-experimental design compared blood and saliva taken from a pre-test and post-test group of NPC patients before and after radiation therapy. The concentration of EBV DNA was measured in the serum and saliva after amplification using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) with compatible primers for the EBNA-1 gene. The data were statistically analysed by paired T-test.
Results: Highly significant (p = 0.0001) increase in cycle threshold qPCR and decrease in the mean concentration of EBV DNA (p = 0.0001) were observed in serum samples, but no significant changes were observed in saliva.
Conclusions: The results suggest that EBV DNA in serum can be used as the gold standard and a marker for monitoring the response to radiation therapy in NPC patients, whereas the examination of EBV DNA from saliva samples is not accurate and thus, not appropriate.