Surgical salvage of chemorefractory germ cell tumors

B. R. Murphy, E. S. Breeden, J. P. Donohue, J. Messemer, W. Walsh, B. J. Roth, L. H. Einhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Purpose: Patients with disseminated germ cell tumors who relapse after salvage chemotherapy, or who progress during cisplatin-based therapy, have chemorefractory disease and a very poor prognosis. A subset of these patients will have chemorefractory but resectable disease. We have therefore evaluated the role of salvage surgery in this patient population. Patients and Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all patients with disseminated germ cell tumors who were felt to have chemorefractory disease and underwent salvage surgery from 1977 to 1990 at Indiana University. All patients had elevated serum markers or other signs of progressive carcinoma. A total of 48 patients underwent surgery (33 retroperitoneal lymph node dissections [RPLNDs], six thoracotomies, three thoracoabdominal resections, and multiple asynchronous procedures in six patients). Results: Thirty-eight of 48 patients (79%) were rendered grossly free of disease and 29 (60%) obtained a serologic remission. Ten patients (21%) remain continuously disease-free with no postoperative treatment with a median follow-up of 46 months (range, 31 to 89). Six additional patients who relapsed after salvage surgery are currently disease-free with further treatment (four with repeat surgery and two with high-dose chemotherapy and autologous bone marrow transplantation [ABMT]). Conclusion: Selected patients with chemorefractory but resectable germ cell tumors have definite potential for cure with salvage surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


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