Defining risk of micrometastatic disease and tumor recurrence in patients with stage I testicular germ cell tumors

Ryan P. Werntz, Scott E. Eggener


There is controversy in the management of patients with clinical stage I non-seminomatous germ cell tumor (NSGCT). Some experts recommend surveillance for all patients regardless of risk factors while others suggest a more risk-adapted approach by using lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and the embryonal component in the primary tumor to select patients most likely to benefit from primary treatment [retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) or chemotherapy]. With the surveillance for all strategy, only patients who relapse are treated. While this minimizes the over treatment, problem associated with the risk adapted approach, this exposes young men to the effects of full induction cisplatin-based chemotherapy when these men could have received fewer cycles of bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin (BEP) or a curative primary RPLND. The challenge is identifying these men who are most likely to benefit from upfront treatment more precisely. This paper explores the currently risk adapted approaches as well as promising emerging biomarkers (microRNA) that, in early data, appear to more accurately predict the presence of microscopic disease in the retroperitoneum over conventional markers.