• late relapse;
  • seminoma;
  • surveillance;
  • germ cell cancer

Study Type – Therapy (case series) Level of Evidence 4


Surveillance is a standard management approach following orchidectomy for stage I non-seminomatous and mixed germ cell tumours. Patients who relapse following this approach are treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy, with retroperitoneal lymph node dissection considered for patients with post-chemotherapy residual masses.


We reviewed the clinicopathological data for all patients who relapse greater than 24 months after commencing our surveillance programme.


Between 1989 and 2008, 453 patients with a median age of 30 years were entered into our surveillance program for stage I non-seminomatous germ cell tumours (NSGCTs) after orchidectomy alone. All primary tumour specimens contained NSGCT, with seminomatous elements identified in 168 cases (37%). One-hundred patients (22%) relapsed and the majority of relapses occurred within the first 2 years (76 ≤ 12 months, 15 ≥ 12 months ≤ 2 years). Nine patients relapsed after more than 2 years of surveillance. We found a high incidence of pure seminoma (56%) at sites of metastatic disease in this group. All late-relapsing patients were alive and disease free at a median follow up of 45 months from relapse.


We recommend that late-relapsing patients with normal serum alpha fetoprotein levels undergo biopsy to define histologically the nature of recurrent disease. In those with pure seminoma retroperitoneal lymph node dissection for post chemotherapy residual masses can be avoided.