Nasopharyngeal carcinoma: molecular biomarker discovery and progress

Mol Cancer. 2007 Jan 2;6:1. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-6-1.


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rare malignancy in most part of the world and it is one of the most confusing, commonly misdiagnosed and poorly understood diseases. The cancer is an Epstein-Barr virus-associated malignancy with a remarkable racial and geographical distribution. It is highly prevalent in southern Asia where the disease occurs at a prevalence about a 100-fold higher compared with other populations not at risk. The etiology of NPC is thought to be associated with a complex interaction of genetic, viral, environmental and dietary factors. Thanks to the advancements in genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics in recent decades, more understanding of the disease etiology, carcinogenesis and progression has been gained. Research into these components may unravel the pathways in NPC development and potentially decipher the molecular characteristics of the malignancy. In the era of molecular medicine, specific treatment to the potential target using technologies such as immunotherapy and RNAi becomes formulating from bench to bedside application and thus makes molecular biomarker discovery more meaningful for NPC management. In this article, the latest molecular biomarker discovery and progress in NPC is reviewed with respect to the diagnosis, monitoring, treatment and prognostication of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Fibronectins / analysis
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / analysis
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA Interference
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein / analysis
  • T-Lymphoma Invasion and Metastasis-inducing Protein 1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / analysis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fibronectins
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein
  • T-Lymphoma Invasion and Metastasis-inducing Protein 1
  • TIAM1 protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A