Treatment of childhood germ cell tumors: Review of the St. Jude experience from 1979 to 1988

Neyssa Marina, James Fontanesi, Larry Kun, Bhaskar Rao, Jesse J. Jenkins, Elizabeth I. Thompson, Erlinda Etcubanas

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80 Scopus citations


Background. The outlook for patients with germ cell tumors was poor before the advent of effective chemotherapy. The authors assessed the outcome of treatment with multiagent chemotherapy (with or without radiation therapy) in children treated for germ cell tumors at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (SJCRH). Methods. Sixty children with germ cell tumors were treated between January 1979 and June 1988. Post‐surgical treatment was based on tumor site, stage, and histology. Most patients received chemotherapy with vincristine, actinomycin‐D, and cyclophosphamide (VAC), or a modified Einhorn regimen (cisplatin, bleomycin, and vinblastine [PVB]); in the absence of response to initial therapy, patients received alternating courses of VAC and PVB (VAC/PVB regimen). Exceptions were patients with Stage I testicular tumors (observation only) and ovarian germinomas (Stage I tumors measuring less than 10 cm, observation only; tumors larger than 10 cm or Stage II‐III disease, radiation only; and Stage IV disease, VAC plus radiation). Results. The estimated 5‐year survival is 100% for patients with Stage I disease (n = 18), 87% for patients with Stage II (n = 8), 72% for Stage III (n = 25), and 56% for Stage IV (n = 9). Patients with testicular tumors of any stage or with Stage I‐II ovarian tumors had 100% 5‐year survival. Extragonadal tumors responded poorly to VAC alone with recurrent or progressive disease in eight of nine patients. Treatment for those tumors was changed to alternating courses of VAC and PVB, which failed in only one of seven patients. Nine of 19 patients with advanced ovarian tumors had disease recurrence with VAC; these patients then received PVB, which was effective in four cases. Conclusions. For patients with advanced germ cell cancers, intensification of therapy or the development of new approaches is necessary. In contrast, future trials in children with limited stage should focus on reducing acute and long‐term toxicities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2568-2575
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 1992


  • chemotherapy
  • childhood cancer
  • germ cell tumors
  • solid tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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