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


Case series of men undergoing postchemotherapy resections have reported that roughly 10% will have viable germ cell cancer, 45% will have teratoma, and 45% will have no viable tumor.[30] Numerous attempts have been made to identify the patients who need surgery and the patients who can be safely observed. Variables predictive of finding only necrosis or fibrosis at surgery are:[31]

  • Absence of any teratoma in the primary tumor.
  • Normal prechemotherapy serum alpha-fetoprotein, β-human chorionic gonadotropin, and lactase dehydrogenase.
  • A small residual mass.
  • A large diminishment in mass size during chemotherapy.

However, only a very small proportion of men have favorable enough features to have less than a 10% chance of having viable neoplasm in their residual masses, and thus the utility of current models has been questioned.[24,32]

When multiple sites of residual disease are present, all residual masses are generally resected. If it is not surgically feasible, then resection is generally not performed. Some patients may have discordant pathologic findings (e.g., fibrosis/necrosis, teratoma, or carcinoma) in residual masses in the abdomen versus the chest. Some medical centers perform simultaneous retroperitoneal and thoracic operations to remove residual masses,[28,33] but most do not. Although the agreement among the histologies of residual masses found after chemotherapy above the diaphragm versus below the diaphragm is only moderate (kappa statistic = 0.42), some evidence exists that if retroperitoneal resection is performed first, results can be used to guide decisions about whether to perform a thoracotomy.[34]

In a multi-institutional case series of surgery to remove postchemotherapy residual masses in 159 patients, necrosis only was found at thoracotomy in about 90% of patients who had necrosis only in their retroperitoneal masses. The figure was about 95% if the original testicular primary tumor had contained no teratomatous elements. Conversely, the histology of residual masses at thoracotomy did not predict nearly as well the histology of retroperitoneal masses.[34] Nonetheless, some centers continue to support resection of all residual masses, even if necrosis is found in the retroperitoneum.[35]

The presence of persistent malignant elements in the resected specimen is considered by some clinicians to be an indication for additional chemotherapy.[36] However, there are no prospective trials investigating the benefit of such treatment. In some cases, chemotherapy is initiated before the orchiectomy because of life-threatening metastatic disease. When this is done, orchiectomy after initiation or completion of chemotherapy is advisable to remove the primary tumor. A physiologic blood-testis barrier seems to appear, and there is a higher incidence (approximately 50%) of residual cancer in the testicle than in remaining radiographically detectable retroperitoneal masses after platinum-based chemotherapy.[16] Some investigators have suggested that in children, 90% of whom have yolk sac tumors, radiation therapy should be given to residual masses after chemotherapy rather than surgery.[37]


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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