Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection in the setting of elevated markers

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The management of residual tumor masses in patients with metastatic germ cell tumor and persistently elevated tumor marker levels after first- and second-line chemotherapy usually excludes surgical resection. The lack of benefit of salvage chemotherapy in patients with persistently elevated markers implies a degree of chemotherapy resistance. However, previous studies demonstrated therapeutic efficacy for a surgical approach in these very particular patients. Therefore, we evaluated pre and postoperative factors, which help to identify suitable candidates, who could potentially benefit from tumor resection.

Recent findings

Preoperative parameters, which predict favorable outcomes, include good prognosis according to the International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative group, a high preoperative level of alpha-fetoprotein in contrast to a high level of β-HCG, stable or decreasing preoperative tumor markers and teratomatous elements in the initial testicular tumor. Retroperitoneal and mediastinal lymph nodes as target lesions are predictive for good long-term outcome due to the higher chance of complete tumor resection. Teratoma or necrosis in the resected residual tissue and postoperative marker normalization additionally represent a favorable prognosis.

Summary

Even in advanced chemorefractory germ cell tumor patients with elevated tumor markers the disease remains curative with radical surgery as a salvage option, if a complete resection can be achieved. Thus, a surgical approach should always be considered in the management of selected patients to avoid unnecessary salvage chemotherapy.

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