Recent developments in the management of germ cell tumors

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Abstract

Purpose of review

In the present review, we summarize the recent developments in the management of germ cell tumors (GCTs).

Recent findings

Treatment-related acute and late-onset toxicity remains a key challenge in the management of GCTs. Recent data show that patients with large retroperitoneal lymph node metastases are at increased risk of venous thromboembolism and may benefit from prophylactic anticoagulation. Predictive models have been developed to identify patients with residual retroperitoneal lymph node masses who are more likely to benefit from surgical resection. However, their clinical use remains hampered by relatively low accuracy. There are currently multiple conventional-dose chemotherapy (CDCT) options for salvage therapy in patients with refractory or recurrent disease. In addition, more efficacious high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) regimens continue to be developed. The role of salvage CDCT versus HDCT is currently being prospectively investigated.

Recent findings

Finally, intratumoral heterogeneity is a common finding in cancer and an obvious observation in GCTs. Despite intratumoral heterogeneity, recent studies on nonseminomatous GCT have identified distinct histological subgroups and a potentially lethal clinical phenotype. Importantly, comprehensive molecular profiling so far has not elucidated the biologic basis or the clinical underpinnings of intratumoral heterogeneity in GCTs.

Summary

Remaining challenges to be addressed include minimizing therapeutic toxicity and improving outcomes in patients with refractory/recurrent GCTs or malignant transformation of teratomas.

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