PURPOSE: Up to 50% of patients diagnosed with stage I non-seminomatous germ cell tumors (NSGCT) harbor occult metastases. Patients are managed by surveillance with chemotherapy at relapse or adjuvant treatment up-front. Late toxicities from chemotherapy are increasingly recognised. Based on a potential biological role in germ cells/tumors and pilot data, our aim was to evaluate tumor expression of the chemokine CXCL12 alongside previously proposed markers as clinically useful biomarkers of relapse.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Immunohistochemistry for tumor expression of CXCL12 was assessed as a biomarker of relapse alongside vascular invasion, histology (percentage embryonal carcinoma) and MIB1 staining for proliferationin formalin fixed paraffin-embedded orchidectomy samples from patients enrolled in the Medical Research Council's TE08/22 prospective trials of surveillance in stage I NSGCT.
RESULTS: TE08/TE22 trial patients had a 76.4% 2-year relapse free rate (RFR) and both CXCL12 expression and percentage embryonal carcinoma provided prognostic value independently of vascular invasion (stratified log rank test p=0.006 for both).There was no additional prognostic value for MIB1 staining. A model using CXCL12, percentage embryonal carcinoma and VI defines 3 prognostic groups that were independantly validated.
CONCLUSIONS: CXCL12 and percentage embryonal carcinoma both stratify patients' relapse risk over and above vascular invasion alone. This is anticipated to improve the stratification of patients and identify high-risk cases to be considered for adjuvant therapy.