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

Note: Some citations in the text of this section are followed by a level of evidence. The PDQ editorial boards use a formal ranking system to help the reader judge the strength of evidence linked to the reported results of a therapeutic strategy. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Levels of Evidence for more information.)

Stage III seminoma and nonseminomas are usually curable but have different criteria for estimating prognosis.

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Patients with disseminated seminomas can be divided into good-risk and intermediate-risk groups based on whether nonpulmonary visceral metastases are present. Good-risk patients (i.e., those with metastases only to lymph nodes and/or lungs) have a 5-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of 82% and 86%, respectively. Intermediate-risk seminoma patients have a 5-year PFS and OS rate of 67% and 72%, respectively.[1]

Patients with disseminated nonseminomas can be divided into good-, intermediate-, and poor-risk groups based on whether nonpulmonary visceral metastases are present, the site of the primary tumor (i.e., mediastinal vs. either gonadal or retroperitoneal), and the level of serum tumor markers.[1]

  • Poor-risk: Men with mediastinal primary tumors, nonpulmonary visceral metastases, or very highly elevated serum tumor markers (as detailed in the Stage Information for Testicular Cancer section) are considered to be at poor risk.
  • Intermediate-risk: Men with intermediate tumor markers levels are considered to be at intermediate risk.
  • Good-risk: Men with good-risk disease have a testis or retroperitoneal primary, metastases limited to lymph nodes and/or lungs, and tumor markers that are in the good-risk range.

In the 1997 analysis that established these risk groups, 5-year OS was 92%, 80% and 48% in good-, intermediate-, and poor-risk groups while the figures for PFS were 89%, 75% and 41%. However, a 2006 pooled analysis of chemotherapy trials reported improved outcomes compared with the 1997 paper: survival in the good-, intermediate-, and poor-risk groups was 94%, 83% and 71%, respectively.[2]

Clinical Trials of Chemotherapy for Disseminated Testis and Extragonadal Germ Cell Tumors

Four cycles of bleomycin plus etoposide plus cisplatin (BEP) chemotherapy as a standard-of-care treatment option for patients with metastatic testicular germ cell tumors was established by a randomized trial showing that it produced similar outcomes with less toxicity in comparison with cisplatin, vinblastine, and bleomycin (PVB).[3] Two randomized trials comparing four courses of BEP with four courses of etoposide plus ifosfamide plus cisplatin (VIP) showed similar OS and time-to-treatment failure for the two regimens in patients with intermediate- and poor-risk advanced disseminated germ cell tumors who had not received prior chemotherapy.[4,5,6][Level of evidence: 1iiA] Hematologic toxic effects were substantially worse with the VIP regimen. For good-risk patients, two randomized trials compared three versus four cycles of BEP and reported no significant benefit from longer treatment in that population.[7,8,9]

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