Although testicular cancer is a rare disease accounting for only 1% of all male neoplasms, it represents a paradigm for cancer curability. Overall, more than 95% of patients can expect to be cured of their disease with minimal long-term toxicity. Given these expectations, it is critical that cancer care providers are familiar with the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges encountered in these rare patients. In particular, clinicians managing these patients should be aware of some of the pitfalls encountered when determining relapse. In a series of case presentations, we review the evaluation and management of patients with persistent elevation of serum tumor markers and postchemotherapy residual radiographic abnormalities.
Craig R. Nichols, MD
Improvements in the clinical staging of testicular cancer may permit the identification of clinical stage I patients at low risk of harboring metastatic disease, who could be spared treatment and observed only. Both retrospective, single-institution studies and studies of unselected, consecutive patients have confirmed that vascular invasion, lymphatic invasion, and percentage of embryonal carcinoma are predictive of metastasis in patients with low-stage nonseminoma. Whether patients with these risk factors have a worse outcome if managed with surveillance, rather than with aggressive therapy, is unclear. Low MIB-1 staining (which identifies the Ki-67 antigen) in conjunction with a low percentage of embryonal carcinoma in the testicular specimen appears to be predictive of a low probability of metastasis. Computed tomography (CT) is a useful staging tool. A new prognostic classification system for seminomas and nonseminomas was recently developed by an international consensus conference. Laparoscopic retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy appears to be a feasible staging tool with acceptable short-term morbidity. Whether laparoscopic lymph node dissection is equivalent to the open procedure when used as a therapeutic modality is not yet known. At present, laparoscopy should be used only in selected patients in a study setting. Primary chemotherapy is not recommended currently because it has not yet been proven to be superior in patients with high-risk clinical stage I nonseminoma and can cause significant long-term sequelae.[ONCOLOGY 13(12):1689-1694, 1999]