The role of second‐look surgery in the management of advanced germ cell malignancies

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The need for second‐look surgery after chemotherapy in children with advanced germ cell tumors is controversial, particularly when levels of the tumor markers alpha‐fetoprotein (AFP) or beta‐human chorionic gonadotropin (βHCG) are elevated at diagnosis. The authors evaluated the outcome of second‐look surgery in relationship to tumor marker status in 27 patients with Stage III to IV disease who had completed four courses of chemotherapy. Markers were elevated at diagnosis in 19 patients. After chemotherapy, markers normalized in 12 of these patients. Second‐look surgery confirmed complete response (CR) in these 12 patients, two of whom had residual masses on computed tomography (CT) scan (mature teratoma and necrotic tumor). The AFP decreased but did not normalize in seven patients; five had residual disease at second look and the other two later developed measurable disease. Of the eight patients with normal AFP at diagnosis, second look confirmed clinical CR in four. The other four patients had CT evidence of residual masses: surgery showed necrotic tissue in two cases, mature glial elements in one, and mature teratoma with glial elements in one. Thus second‐look surgery added no information for treatment planning in children with elevated tumor markers at diagnosis and might best be reserved for patients without tumor markers at diagnosis and residual masses on CT scan, and those with persistent elevation of tumor markers and potentially resectable residual disease. Because of the possibility of small amount of residual tumor, second‐look surgery may also be useful in patients whose markers normalize but who have residual masses on CT scans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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