Salvage therapy with high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and bone marrow transplant (BMT) or peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) has curative potential in patients with recurrent germ cell tumor. However, patients with primary mediastinal nonseminomatous germ cell tumors (PMNSGCTs) have had poor results with any form of salvage chemotherapy including HDCT. We switched from BMT to PBSCT in 1996. One hundred sixteen of 184 patients (63%) with recurrent or refractory germ cell tumors treated from 1996 to 2004 were alive and continuously disease-free. PMNSGCTs were excluded from that study because of poor results in the patient population with HDCT and BMTs. In 2006, we resumed treating patients with recurrent PMNSGCT with 2 consecutive courses of HDCT consisting of carboplatin 700 mg/m2 × 3 plus etoposide 750 mg/m2 × 3 and each followed by an infusion of autologous peripheral-blood hematopoietic stem cells with a second course 3 to 4 weeks later. Twelve patients were treated: 11 as initial salvage chemotherapy and 1 as fourth-line therapy. Eight of the 12 patients had major thoracic resections at the time of the relapse after initial chemotherapy. Three of the 12 patients achieved complete remission (CR; 10, 15, and 50 months' duration). One patient remains continuously with no evidence of disease (NED) at 50 months. An additional patient is currently NED at 52 months with HDCT and subsequent surgery. Median survival for the 12 patients was 11 months (range, 4-52 months). Results with tandem transplant for recurrent PMNSGCT remain poor compared to primary testis cancer, but durable CR and probable cure can be achieved in a small subset of patients with PMNSGCT. In our opinion, salvage surgical resection if anatomically feasible is the preferred option for patients with PMNSGT progressing after initial chemotherapy.
- Alpha fetoprotein (AFP)
- Germ cell tumor (GCT)
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
- Refractory germ cell tumor
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