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Testicular Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage II Testicular Cancer


A more recent approach has been to obtain an 18-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scan following chemotherapy. A study of 56 patients reported that positron emission tomography (PET) scans correctly identified eight of ten patients with residual seminoma with no false positives among the 46 patients with benign masses.[8] In this study, PET scans were 100% accurate in patients with residual masses greater than 3 cm in greatest diameter whereas residual malignant masses less than 3 cm were only detected in one of three men. This study provides support for observing men with residual FDG-PET-negative masses greater than 3 cm and for performing a biopsy or resection of any FDG-PET-positive mass.

Standard treatment options for patients with nonbulky tumors:

  1. Radical inguinal orchiectomy followed by radiation therapy to the retroperitoneal and ipsilateral pelvic lymph nodes. Prophylactic radiation therapy to the mediastinum is contraindicated because of cardiovascular toxicity, and prophylactic radiation to the supraclavicular fossa is not standard. Radiation therapy to inguinal nodes is not standard unless there has been some damage to the scrotum to put inguinal lymph nodes at risk.
  2. Systemic chemotherapy using three cycles of BEP or four cycles of etoposide and cisplatin. This approach is generally reserved for stage IIA and IIB patients who have multiple areas of adenopathy in the retroperitoneum or a contraindication to radiation therapy such as a horseshoe or pelvic kidney, or inflammatory bowel disease.[7,9,10,11]
  3. Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) may be performed in those rare men who have contraindications to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Standard treatment options for patients with bulky tumors:

  1. Radical inguinal orchiectomy followed by combination chemotherapy (with a cisplatin-based regimen) using three cycles of BEP or four cycles of etoposide and cisplatin.[7,9,10,11]
  2. Radical inguinal orchiectomy followed by radiation therapy to the abdominal and pelvic lymph nodes. The recurrence rate is higher after radiation therapy for men with bulky stage II tumors than radiation therapy for nonbulky tumors, leading some authors to recommend primary chemotherapy for patients with bulky disease (≥5 cm–10 cm).[3,12]

Stage II Nonseminoma

Stage II nonseminoma is highly curable (>95%). Men with stage II disease and persistently elevated serum tumor markers are generally treated as having stage III disease and receive chemotherapy. For men with normal markers after orchiectomy, nonseminomas are divided into stages IIA, IIB, and IIC for treatment purposes. In general, stage IIA patients undergo RPLND to confirm the staging. As many as 40% of clinical stage IIA patients will have benign findings at RPLND and will be restaged as having pathological stage I disease.[13] RPLND can thus prevent a significant number of clinical stage IIA patients from receiving unnecessary chemotherapy.

In contrast, stage IIB and IIC patients are usually treated with systemic chemotherapy for disseminated disease because these patients have a higher relapse rate after RPLND. One study reported that by limiting RPLND to patients with earlier stage II disease and normal serum tumor markers, 5-year relapse-free survival (RFS) increased from 78% to 100% after RPLND, while RFS did not change significantly among stage II patients receiving chemotherapy (100% vs. 98%).[14] However, the question of whether to treat patients with stage II nonseminomas germ cell tumors with RPLND or chemotherapy has never been subjected to a randomized trial.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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