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]
Richard S. Foster, MD
The paper by Drs. Moul and Heidenreich provides a very nice review of prognostic factors for metastasis in patients with clinical stage I nonseminoma. Risk-adapted management--ie, the management of patients at low risk for metastasis by surveillance and patients at high risk for metastasis by retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND)--is very reasonable, and we are now at a point where a paradigm can be developed to accurately classify clinical stage I patients as either low or high risk and manage them accordingly.