Purpose: To evaluate the therapeutic benefit of postchemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (PCRPLND) in patients with persistently elevated serum tumor markers. Patients and Methods: One hundred fourteen patients with metastatic germ cell cancer with elevated serum tumor markers after first-line (50 patients) or second-line chemotherapy (64 patients) who underwent PCRPLND between 1977 and 2000 with a minimum follow-up of 2-years were included in this retrospective study. Results: The 5-year overall survival was 53.9%. Sixty-one patients (53.5%) are alive with a medium follow-up of 72 months. Fifty-three patients died of disease, with a medium time to death of 8.0 months. Mean preoperative serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (βHCG) levels were 483 ng/mL and 555 mU/mL, respectively, with no difference in 5-year survival (P = .2). Retroperitoneal pathology revealed germ cell cancer in 53.5% of patients, teratoma in 34.2% of patients, and fibrosis in 12.2% of patients, with 5-year survival rates of 31.4%, 77.5%, and 85.7%, respectively (P < .0001). Predictors of retroperitoneal pathology included an increasing serum AFP or βHCG, βHCG more than 100 ng/mL, redo retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND), and second-line chemotherapy. Poor prognostic variables by multivariable analysis included βHCG status, serum AFP level, redo RPLND, and germ cell cancer in the resected specimen. Conclusion: A subset of patients with elevated serum tumor markers after chemotherapy is curable with surgery. The prognostic factors predictive of outcome in this analysis include an increasing βHCG, serum AFP level, redo RPLND, and germ cell cancer in the resected specimen. These factors, along with clinical and surgical experience, should aid in determining the appropriate integration of surgery and chemotherapy in this population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research