Purpose: To evaluate the long-term sequelae of treatment for malignant germ cell tumors (GCT) during childhood and adolescence.
Patients and methods: Of 128 patients treated for GCT at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital between 1962 and 1988, 73 are long-term survivors (continuously disease-free for > or =5 years after diagnosis), with a median follow-up of 11.3 years). Survivors' ages at diagnosis ranged from birth to 18.3 years (median, 9.2 years); 64% (47 patients) were female. Initial surgical resection was followed by observation for stage I germinomas (n = 2), testicular tumors (n = 13), and selected cases of ovarian or sacrococcygeal tumors (n = 2), and by radiation therapy (RT) for patients with stage II to III germinoma (n = 8). The remaining 48 patients received postoperative chemotherapy (vincristine, dactinomycin, and cyclophosphamide [VAC] +/- doxorubicin, 1962 to 1978; VAC and/or cisplatin, vinblastine, and bleomycin [PVB], 1979 to 1988). RT was added to the chemotherapy for 21 patients. Late complications involving various organ systems and their relationship to treatment were evaluated.
Results: More than two-thirds of long-term survivors (n = 50) had at least 1 complication, and half (n = 38) had > 1 organ system affected. The systems most often involved included the musculoskeletal (41% of survivors), endocrine (42%), cardiovascular (16% excluding those who had only abnormal chest radiograph), gastrointestinal (25%), genitourinary tract (23%), pulmonary (19%), and neurologic (16%) systems. High-frequency hearing loss occurred in 58% (11 of 19) of patients treated with cisplatin. Musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract abnormalities were most frequent in patients whose treatment included RT.
Conclusions: A high frequency of late effects after treatment for pediatric GCT, particularly in patients who received RT, was demonstrated. Treatment sequelae could be anticipated from the intensity and type of therapeutic modalities. Treatment-directed screening evaluations may improve quality of life in long-term survivors of pediatric GCT through timely identification of sequelae that can be prevented or ameliorated.