SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

A search was made for Epstein-BARR virus (EBV) associated nuclear antigen (EBNA) in touch preparations of fresh biopsy material from 26 carcinomas of the nasopharynx, 39 other tumours of the head and neck, the nasopharyngeal mucosa of 32 patients in whom nasopharyngeal neoplasm had been excluded, and the mucosa from enlarged but non-neoplastic tonsils removed from 12 patients. EBNA-positive cells were uniformly detected in the preparations from the undifferentiated and poorly differentiated squamous-cell carcinomas of the nasopharynx, provided they contained tumour-cell aggregates. Such cells were not detected in the preparations from the single case of well-differentiated papillary adenocarcinoma in the nasopharyngeal carcinoma group. There were no moderately or well-differentiated squamous-cell carcinomas among the nasopharyngeal carcinoma group. Among other tumours of the head and neck, only three undifferentiated carcinomas of the nasal fossa were found to contain EBNA-positive cells. None of the nasopharyngeal or tonsillar mucosal preparations contained such cells. These findings confirm the unique regular association of EBNA with nasopharyngeal carcinoma of undifferentiated and poorly differentiated squamous-cell types (NPC). The EBV-related serological findings support the value of tests for IgG and IgA antibodies to VCA and EA(D) in the exclusion of NPC in patients with suspicious symptoms and the differentiation between NPC and other tumours of the head and neck. Examination of biopsy specimens for the presence of EBNA-positive cells or EBV-DNA is essential, however, for confirmation of the diagnosis.