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High-dose Chemo Battles Recurrent Testicular Cancer

High-dose chemotherapy combined with a stem-cell transplant can boost survival in men who have had a relapse after being treated for testicular cancer, researchers report.

Most men with testicular cancer can be cured with the combination of surgery and chemotherapy. However, as many as 30% may require additional treatment, according to Dr. Lawrence H. Einhorn and associates from Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

In a 3-year study of 65 men suffering a cancer relapse, the men received high-dose chemotherapy followed by either a bone-marrow transplant or stem-cell transplant to replenish the immune system damaged by the chemotherapy, which can be extremely toxic.

More than 40% of patients had a complete response to the high-dose chemotherapy, the authors report, and another 20% had no evidence of tumor after additional surgery. Fifteen additional patients had a partial response.

Overall, nearly 60% of patients were continuously free of cancer after high-dose chemotherapy either alone or combined with other treatments, according to the report in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Some of the side effects of the chemotherapy were fever, diarrhea, nausea, mouth sores or kidney toxicity, though none of the patients died from the treatment.

"This is a message of hope," Einhorn said in a statement issued by the journal. "For patients who are not cured with the initial chemotherapy, we can now tell them with confidence that there is more than a 50% chance they can still be cured with second-line therapy."

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology 2000;18:3346-3351.