A review of the close surveillance policy for stage I female germ cell tumors of the ovary and other sites

Int J Gynecol Cancer. Jan-Feb 2008;18(1):43-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1438.2007.00969.x. Epub 2007 Apr 26.


Ovarian germ cell tumors are rare but very curable at all stages of disease. There is good evidence that surveillance for stage I dysgerminomas is a safe option although many centers worldwide still advocate adjuvant chemotherapy for stage IA nondysgerminomatous tumors, despite the significant risk of developing long-term treatment side effects. Here, we review the safety of our ongoing surveillance program of all stage IA female germ cell tumors. Thirty-seven patients (median age 26, range 14-48 years) with stage I disease were referred to Mount Vernon and Charing Cross Hospitals between 1981 and 2003. Patients underwent surgery and staging followed by intense surveillance, which included regular tumor markers and imaging. The median period of follow-up was 6 years. Relapse rates for stage IA nondysgerminomatous tumors and dysgerminomas were 8 of 22 (36%) and 2 of 9 (22%), respectively, plus one patient with mature teratoma and glial implants also relapsed; 10 of these 11 patients (91%) were successfully cured with platinum-based chemotherapy. Only one patient died from chemoresistant disease. All relapses occurred within 13 months of initial surgery. The overall disease-specific survival of malignant ovarian germ cell tumors was 94%. Over 50% of patients who underwent fertility-sparing surgery went on to have successful pregnancies. We have confirmed again that surveillance of all stage IA ovarian germ cell tumors is very safe and that the outcome is comparable with testicular tumors. We question the need for potentially toxic adjuvant chemotherapy in nondysgerminoma patients who have greater than 90% chance of being salvaged with chemotherapy if they relapse later.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Dysgerminoma / diagnosis*
  • Dysgerminoma / metabolism
  • Dysgerminoma / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Management
  • Teratoma / diagnosis*
  • Teratoma / metabolism
  • Teratoma / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor