Objective: To compare the survival outcomes of patients with advanced nonseminoma and extraretroperitoneal (ERP) disease observed for a clinical complete response (CCR) with those demonstrating a pathologic complete response (PCR). Methods: From 1989 to 2003, 237 patients with clinical Stage III nonseminoma underwent induction chemotherapy followed by retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. After chemotherapy, 107 demonstrated a CCR to treatment at the ERP disease site. Of the remaining 130 patients with radiographic evidence of residual ERP disease, 86 (66%) had fibrosis only on pathologic review (ie, PCR). The probability of progression-free and disease-specific survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was used to determine the prognostic significance of risk factors for progression and survival. Results: The median follow-up was similar for both CCR and PCR patients (44.5 and 50.7 months, respectively). Overall, the 5-year probability of freedom from progression (93% vs 72%, respectively; P =.0005) and disease-specific survival (96% vs 87%, respectively; P =.08) rates were far better for men with a PCR. The predictors of disease progression included residual retroperitoneal nodal size after chemotherapy (P =.05), and resection of the residual disease at the ERP site was protective (P =.02). Conclusion: A CCR at the ERP disease site is associated with a greater likelihood of relapse compared with a PCR, underscoring the limitations of radiographic imaging after chemotherapy in detecting microscopic residual disease and need for rigorous monitoring of patients observed after a CCR. Furthermore, until more accurate clinical predictors of ERP histologic features are identified, we advocate for complete surgical resection of all sites of residual disease, when feasible.
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