Immunoglobulin A against viral capsid antigen of Epstein-Barr virus and indirect mirror examination of the nasopharynx in the detection of asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Cancer. 1992 Jan 1;69(1):3-7. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19920101)69:1<3::aid-cncr2820690104>;2-7.


To evaluate the efficacy of population screening for early stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in southern China, the authors recruited 42,048 and 10,402 apparently healthy subjects residing in a high incidence and a low incidence area, respectively; all subjects were between the ages of 30 and 59 years. The subjects' serum specimens were tested for immunoglobulin (Ig) A antibody against viral capsid antigen (IgA/VCA) of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Of the subjects from the high incidence area, 2823 were found to be seropositive. In follow-up, they had yearly examinations of the nasopharynx by indirect mirror with or without biopsy; 41 were found to have histologically confirmed asymptomatic NPC during the first 2 years of follow-up. The tumors in most of these cases were localized and were at earlier stages than tumors of symptomatic cases of NPC seen in the same region before the screening. The yearly indirect mirror examination of the nasopharynx seems to have effectively identified most of the tumors at the stage of asymptomatic disease. The risk of harboring NPC was found to be different among the different sex and age subgroups of seropositive individuals. By limiting such screening to those who are at exceedingly high risk, the cost of the screening can be kept within the spending of the public health authority, and the effectiveness of the screening also is improved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Capsid / immunology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Serologic Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnosis*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin A