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Curr Opin Oncol. 2001 May;13(3):191-8.

Testicular cancer.

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Department of Medical Oncology, St Barts & Royal London School of Medicine, London, UK.


A report of a 5-year survival rate of 39% for all patients with testis cancer in Kenya contrasts sharply with the 62% 5-year survival rate after tandem high-dose chemotherapy in first-line salvage of metastatic nonseminoma, and this figure provides a stark reminder of the differences in level of health care in the world. Nothing matches, however, the international significance of the success of Lance Armstrong in winning the Tour de France for the second time. It brings home the message of how complete the cure of this disease is and the need for more to be done to educate people about this success and encourage us to seek to discover the scientific basis for why this cancer is so different from all other cancers. The discovery that Lance Armstrong's brain metastases were totally necrotic at day 21 after the first treatment, taken with a report on the use of day 21 computed tomograph response to predict outcome, reinforces that message. With a second report suggesting that there are regions of the world that may have escaped the environmental damage to fertility that is now increasingly accepted as the most significant risk factor for development of this disease, we also need to remember the importance of germ cells as a weather vane of the environment. The first breakthrough in identifying a specific genetic region on the X chromosome with susceptibility to germ cell cancer of the testis by its association with development of undescended testis was one of the scientific landmarks of this past year. Clinically, with such high cure rates after salvage treatments, most of the controversy focuses now on early management of this disease. Debate continues regarding the need for orchidectomy or node dissection before chemotherapy in patients with metastases. There is also considerable debate concerning the need for any adjuvant treatment in stage 1 disease, whether surgical, chemotherapeutic, or radiotherapeutic. With reviews on late events highlighting the possibility that cisplatin dosage may be critical in synergizing with etoposide in causing leukemia and late cardiovascular events and reports suggesting that circulating cisplatin can be detected in the plasma as long as 20 years after treatment, the message of the year is clearly how to safely minimize the amount of treatment.

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