Approximately 30% of patients with disseminated testicular cancer who receive platinum-based chemotherapy will experience normalization of tumor markers but have persistent, radiographically evident disease in the retroperitoneum. These patients are usually subjected to retroperitoneal lymph-node dissection (RPLND). In all, 45 of 557 patients (8.1%) undergoing postchemotherapy RPLND at Indiana University Medical Center (IUMC) were found to have neoplastic elements distinct from the classic germ-cell tumor types within their resected specimens. Examples included various sarcomas in 14 patients (3.7%), other nonsarcomatous non-germ-cell cancers in 18 patients (3.2%), and cystic atypical choriocarcinoma in 8 patients (1.4%). No distinct patient characteristic or histologic pattern in the primary tumor was predictive of these unusual findings in the RPLND specimen, although sampling error in the orchiectomy specimen could be the reason for this lack of correlation. Surgical resection of these chemoresistant tumors is potentially curative, with disease-free survival being obtained in 13 of 19 patients (68.4%) with sarcoma, 10 of 18 patients (55.6%) with nonsarcomatous cancers, and 7 of 8 patients (87.5%) with cystic atypical choriocarcinoma at mean follow-up intervals of 30.6, 42.5, and 24.7 months, respectively.
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