Clinical management of primary central nervous system germ cell tumors

Semin Oncol. 2004 Oct;31(5):676-83. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2004.07.010.


Despite excellent long-term results for patients with germinoma treated with radiation therapy, the potential for late effects makes the treatment controversial. On the other hand, most patients with non-germinomatous tumors treated by conventional treatment with surgery and radiation therapy fail to survive longer than 3 years. After combination chemotherapy with cisplatin was confirmed to be effective in gonadal germ cell tumors, germ cell tumors of the brain became candidates for chemotherapy. The author reviews several prospective phase II studies that are being investigated to assess the effect of combination chemotherapy and radiation therapy for germ cell tumors. The aim of these studies is to reduce the volume and dose of radiation therapy for germinoma and prolong the survival of patients of non-germinomatous tumors. For germinoma, a trial with chemotherapy alone failed, with a high rate of recurrence, but Japanese and European trials with reduced-dose chemotherapy and a smaller volume of radiation therapy have resulted in high event-free survival (EFS) rates. Ongoing phase II studies with combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy for non-germinomatous tumors will result in a 5-year survival rate of greater than 50%, which is better than that achieved by radiation therapy alone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / therapy*