Key words Testicular cancer
High dose chemotherapy
Toxicity of chemotherapy
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The current aims of chemotherapy in metastatic testicular cancer are to reduce treatment-related toxicity in patients with “good-prognosis” metastatic disease without compromising the efficacy and to improve treatment results in “poor-prognosis” patients according to the IGCCCG classification by the use of more dose-intensive regimens. Three cycles of PEB chemotherapy, consisting of cisplatin, etoposide, and bleomycin, remain the standard treatment for good-prognosis patients despite a number of randomized studies trying to avoid the toxicity of bleomycin or to abandon cisplatin-associated side effects by substitution with the less toxic analogue carboplatin. In patients with intermediate- and poor-prognosis criteria, four cycles of PEB given at 3-weekly intervals are considered routine treatment. The role of high-dose chemotherapy with peripheral blood stem-cell (PBSC) transplantation (HDCT) is currently being investigated for patients who initially present with poor-prognosis metastatic disease and for patients with relapse after previous chemotherapy. Favorable results with long-term survival rates of approximately 75% have been achieved with up-front sequential HDCT in a phase I–II trial of the German Testicular Cancer Study Group (GTCSG) in such patients. A randomized phase III trial comparing conventional dose chemotherapy (4× PEB) with HDCT (2× PEB + 2× HD-CEC) was initiated as a United States intergroup trial in 1996. In patients with relapsed disease, conventional salvage chemotherapy results in only an approximately 20% long-term survival rate. Particularly, primary mediastinal disease and chemotherapy refractoriness represent variables associated with a very poor outcome. HDCT is also employed in relapsed patients to improve the long-term outcome. Long-term toxicity of treatment has become an important issue due to the large group of patients with metastatic disease now being cured with modern treatment strategies. The cumulative dose of cisplatin applied has been identified as a major risk factor for the development of many types of late toxicity. Despite the major advances made in the last 20 years, evaluation of the role of HDCT in both first-line and salvage treatment, investi- gation of new cytotoxic agents in refractory patients, and assessment of the long-term toxicities are major tasks that remain to be addressed in controlled clinical trials.
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