Testicular Cancer Biomarkers: A Role for Precision Medicine in Testicular Cancer

Ricardo Leão, Ardalan E Ahmad, Robert J Hamilton
Clinical Genitourinary Cancer 2019, 17 (1): e176-e183
Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) represent the most common solid tumors among men aged 15 to 34 years. Fortunately, recent advances have made testicular cancer a highly curable disease. Despite the high cure rates, there are still several areas in testis cancer care where treatment decisions are controversial and guided only with clinical factors and historic serum tumor markers. Unfortunately, unlike other genitourinary malignancies, modern research techniques have not been widely tested or applied to germ cell tumors, perhaps as a result of excellent prognosis in this cohort of young men. Despite this, there remain numerous challenges and pitfalls in testis cancer care that need to be addressed. A reliable set of biomarkers could be extremely useful in helping risk-stratify patients, detect relapse early, guide surgical decision-making, and tailor follow-up. Current tumor markers (Alpha-fetoprotein, human chorionic gonadotrophin, and lactate dehydrogenase) have low accuracy and low sensitivity when used not only as diagnostic but also as prognostic and predictive markers. In twenty-first century medicine, there is a role for further prognostic stratification and the development of novel biomarkers that offer greater sensitivity and specificity for TGCTs. Despite the initial promising results, the majority of preclinical biomarkers do not, as yet have a proven validated role in clinical practice, and future prospective trials are needed to support and confirm the results of cohort studies. In this narrative review, we aimed to highlight the recent innovations in the development and implementation of novel testicular tumor markers and discuss their clinical applications and limitations in the management of this disease.

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