• germ cell tumors;
  • testicular cancer;
  • age over 50;
  • epidemiology;
  • histology;
  • primary site;
  • cisplatin


Germ cell tumors (GCTs) primarily affect adolescent and young adult men. Detailed clinical and treatment characteristics in older men are lacking.


Patients with GCT seen over a 20-year period at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center were identified. Primary tumor site and histology were compared for patients aged ≥ 50 years at diagnosis versus younger men. For patients aged ≥ 50, individual chart review was performed and treatment delays, changes, and toxicities were recorded for those treated with first-line chemotherapy.


Of 4235 diagnoses of GCT, 3999 (94.4%) were made at age < 50 versus 236 (5.6%) at age ≥ 50. Compared with patients diagnosed before age 50, older men more frequently had seminoma (62.7% versus 36.7%) and less frequently, nonseminoma (34.7% versus 63.2%) (P < .0001). Predominant histology switched from nonseminoma to seminoma around age 35. Distribution of primary sites also differed for older versus younger men (testis: 89.4% versus 92.9%; retroperitoneal: 3.8% versus 0.7%; CNS 0% versus 1.7%) except for mediastinal primary tumors, which remained constant across age groups. Fifty patients age ≥ 50 received first-line platinum-based chemotherapy; 30 experienced complications leading to treatment discontinuation, delay ≥ 7 days, or regimen change. Twenty-two (44%) patients experienced neutropenic fever, 6 despite prophylactic growth factor support. Estimated 5-year survival for chemotherapy-treated patients was 84.9%.


Men aged ≥ 50 years comprise less than 10% of GCT diagnoses and have distinct clinical and histological characteristics as compared with younger patients. Although complications from chemotherapy occur frequently in older men, prognosis remains excellent when risk-directed treatment is administered with curative intent. Cancer 2013;119:2574–2581. © 2013 American Cancer Society.