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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Apr 2;99(7):4592-5. Epub 2002 Mar 19.

Curing metastatic testicular cancer.

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Indiana University Medical Center, 535 Barnhill Drive, RT 473, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5289, USA.


Our initial studies with cisplatin + vinblastine + bleomycin began 27 years ago in 1974, changing the cure rate for disseminated disease from 5 to 60%. Subsequently, through random prospective clinical trials, we have modified the treatment regimen to reduce both the duration and dosages of the chemotherapy drugs. Cisplatin + etoposide was first used at Indiana University as salvage chemotherapy in 1978, representing the first time that a solid tumor had been cured with second-line chemotherapy. We next did a clinical trial comparing bleomycin + etoposide + cisplatin (BEP) to cisplatin + vinblastine + bleomycin. The BEP regimen was proven to have less toxicity and a higher cure rate and therefore, since 1984, has been standard chemotherapy. More recent studies have evaluated the use of lesser chemotherapy to maintain the same cure rate for patients with good-prognosis disease. Standard therapy for these patients is either three courses of BEP or four courses of EP, and over 90% of these patients will be cured of their disease. Patients who are not cured with their initial BEP chemotherapy are usually treated with salvage chemotherapy. Approximately 50% of these testicular cancer patients will subsequently be cured with salvage chemotherapy with tandem transplant of high-dose chemotherapy with peripheral stem cell rescue. Testicular cancer has become a model for a curable neoplasm. In the early 1970s, metastatic testicular cancer was associated with only 5% survival. Today, with modern chemotherapy and surgery techniques, 80% of patients will survive their disease.

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