Management of primary malignant germ cell tumor of the mediastinum

Hiroyuki Sakurai, Hisao Asamura, Kenji Suzuki, Shun Ichi Watanabe, Ryosuke Tsuchiya

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Primary mediastinal malignant germ cell tumors (GCTs) are rare and have a worse prognosis than their gonadal counterparts. Although multimodality treatment is a standard therapeutic strategy in mediastinal GCTs, the clinical implications of surgical intervention remain unclear. Methods: Forty-eight patients with primary mediastinal malignant GCT who were treated at the National Cancer Center Hospital, Tokyo, from 1962 to 2002 were studied retrospectively with regard to their histology and clinical profile. Results: Mediastinal GCT occurred predominantly in young males, with a mean age of 28.8 years at the time of diagnosis. There were 46 males (96%) and two females (4%). Histologically, seven patients (15%) were diagnosed as having pure seminoma and 41 (85%) had non-seminomatous GCT. Treatment consisted of surgery alone in nine patients, surgery followed by chemotherapy in two, and chemotherapy followed by surgery in 20. The other 17 patients received chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy without surgery. Of these latter 17 patients, 14 developed progressive disease and three were followed up with a sustained partial response. Among the 31 patients who underwent surgery, complete resection was performed in 27 (87%) and incomplete resection was performed in four (13%). Twelve (41%) patients had elevated serum tumor marker levels preoperatively. Among the 20 patients who received preoperative chemotherapy, viable cells were found in the resected specimen in six (30%). With regard to tumor recurrence in patients with surgical intervention, the preoperative serum tumor marker levels and the presence of viable cells in the resected specimen were significantly associated with recurrence. There was no significant association between surgical curability and recurrence. The 5-year overall survival rate in all 48 patients was 45.5%. Conclusions: Surgical intervention for mediastinal GCT may be needed to remove a chemotherapy-refractory tumor or to assess the pathological response to chemotherapy to determine the indications for further chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-392
Number of pages7
JournalJapanese journal of clinical oncology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Germ cell tumor
  • Mediastinal neoplasms
  • Mediastinum
  • Tumor markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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