Purpose: Despite great success in the treatment of disseminated germ cell tumors, 20% of patients are incurable and become candidates for investigational therapy. Paclitaxel and gemcitabine have shown activity as single agents in refractory germ cell tumors and can be combined with manageable toxicity.
Patients and methods: Patients with germ cell tumors believed to be incurable with chemotherapy or surgery were treated with paclitaxel 110 mg/m(2) and gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m(2) intravenously on days 1, 8, and 15 of a 4-week cycle for a maximum of six cycles. Patients were evaluated for response and toxicity.
Results: Twenty-eight of 30 enrolled patients were assessable. Toxicity was primarily hematologic but was manageable with only a single case of neutropenic fever. Six (21.4%) of 28 patients responded, including three complete responses. Two of the complete responders were continuously disease-free at 15+ and 25+ months.
Conclusion: Paclitaxel plus gemcitabine is an active regimen in refractory germ cell tumors, with an acceptable toxicity profile. This regimen has the possibility for long-term disease-free survival in this refractory patient population.