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Long-term Survival With Paclitaxel and Gemcitabine for Germ Cell Tumors After Progression Following High-Dose Chemotherapy With Tandem Transplant

Mulherin, Brian P. MD*; Brames, Mary J. RN; Einhorn, Lawrence H. MD

American Journal of Clinical Oncology: August 2015 - Volume 38 - Issue 4 - p 373–376
doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e31829e19e0
Original Articles: Genitourinary

Objectives: Germ cell tumor patients progressing after high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) have a dismal prognosis. A prior retrospective study of paclitaxel and gemcitabine enrolled 32 patients. All failed first-line chemotherapy and salvage therapy with HDCT. We now present long-term results.

Methods: Eligible patients received BEP or similar first-line chemotherapy and subsequent HDCT. They were treated with paclitaxel (100 mg/m2) on days 1, 8, and 15 and gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2) on days 1, 8, and 15 every 4 weeks for a maximum of 6 cycles.

Results: Ten of 32 (31%) had an objective response (4 partial remissions and 6 complete responses). Four patients (12.5% of total) have enjoyed long-term survival; 3 are continuously disease free for 64, 94, and 122 months. None of these 3 received subsequent chemotherapy or surgery. A fourth patient relapsed after 72 months, and has now reachieved remission for 36+ months after treatment with the same regimen. These patients had 2, 2, 2, and 4 prior therapies, respectively, and a rising serum human chorionic gonadotropin (69 and 138 mIU/mL), α-fetoprotein (525 ng/mL), or increasing intrathoracic metastases. Longest prior response ranged from 5 to 24 months.

Conclusions: Paclitaxel and gemcitabine salvage chemotherapy can offer long-term survival and probable cure in relapsed/refractory germ cell tumor patients after HDCT. This is an appropriate regimen in a taxane-naive and gemcitabine-naive patient population. This is the first example of a nonplatinum curative chemotherapy regimen in patients progressing after HDCT.

*Hematology Oncology of Indiana

Division of Hematology/Oncology, Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, Indianapolis, IN

Supported by Indiana University Simon Cancer Center (internal funding).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Lawrence H. Einhorn, MD, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, 535 Barnhill Drive RT 473, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5289, IN. E-mail:

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