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Optimal management of testicular cancer: from self-examination to treatment of advanced disease

Authors Beck S

Published 12 August 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 143—154


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Stephen DW Beck

Department of Urology, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Abstract: Germ-cell cancer is the most common solid tumor in men aged 15 to 35 years and has become the model for curable neoplasm. Over the last 3 decades, the cure rate has increased from 15% to 85%. This improved cure rate has been largely attributed to the ­introduction of cisplatin-based chemotherapy. In stage I seminoma and nonseminoma, cure rates approach 100% and treatment is governed by patient choice based on the perceived morbidities of each therapy and personal preferences. For seminoma, treatments include surveillance, radiotherapy, and single course carboplatin. For nonseminoma, treatments include surveillance, retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND), and adjuvant chemotherapy. Low volume (<3 cm) stage II seminoma is typically managed with radiotherapy while higher volume (>3 cm) stage II and stage III disease treated with chemotherapy. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging can differentiate active cancer versus necrosis for postchemotherapy residual masses. PET-positive masses are managed with either surgery or second-line chemotherapy. Low volume (<5 cm) stage II nonseminoma with normal serum tumor markers may be managed with either RPLND or chemotherapy. Patients with persistently elevated serum tumor markers and larger volume stage II and stage III disease are managed with systemic chemotherapy. As with ­seminoma, good risk patients are typically treated with 3 courses of bleomycin, etoposide, and ­cisplatin (BEP) and intermediate and poor risk patients are treated with 4 courses. Residual postchemotherapy masses should be resected due to the uncertainty of the histology with 50% to 60% harboring residual teratoma or active cancer. The majority of patients completing initial therapy who relapse do so within 2 years. A minority of patients (2%–3%) recur after 2 years and this phenomenon is termed late relapse. Excluding chemonaïve patients, late relapse disease is typically managed surgically with 50% being cured of disease. Current therapeutic challenges in testis cancer include the accurate prediction of postchemotherapy histology to avoid surgery in patients harboring fibrosis only, improved therapy in platinum-resistant and platinum-refractory disease, and the understanding of the biology of late relapse.

Keywords: testicular cancer, self-examination, advanced disease

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