CALGARY—Testicular cancer is the most common form of the disease in young males and a new study out of the University of Calgary is showing a cure rate of almost 100 percent in patients who are disease-free two years after diagnosis and treatment.
About 1,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year and if it is caught early, the survival rate is 99 percent.
But in those cases where the disease has spread to other parts of the body, the prognosis varies and scientists say the survival rates for men with advanced metastatic testicular cancer ranges from 50-90 percent.
Researchers at the university collected data from about 1,000 metastatic testicular cancer patients over a 12-year period and found there was a 98 percent cure rate for those men who were free of the disease two years after diagnosis and treatment.
“This is a paradigm shift for men with advanced testicular cancer,” said Dr. Daniel Heng, a clinical associate professor at the University of Calgary’s Department of Oncology.
“For many cancers, the five-year mark has been the gold standard,” he noted.
“Only when you’ve passed the five-year mark are you thought to be at a very low risk of relapse.
“Now with metastatic testicular cancer, after the two-year mark you’re considered golden,” Heng added.
“This is much more reassuring for patients as opposed to waiting five years.”
The results of the study are changing medical guidelines on disease surveillance around the world—and that could mean fewer CT scans for patients after treatment.
“That actually relieves a lot of anxiety for a patient,” said Heng.
“And now we can tell them, after two years, if you’re good, you’re probably golden and you don’t need any more CT scans.”
Patients recovering from the disease typically have a CT scan every three months in the first year, every four-six months in the second, and annually after that for five years following treatment.
Scientists say the new study now suggests that monitoring the patient through CT scans can be discontinued after two years of disease-free survival, along with the associated blood tests and physical exams.
Doctors say the best defence still is a strong offence and men should conduct regular self-checks regardless of whether they’ve had a cancer diagnoses or not.
The study was funded by the Calgary charity Oneball, and the findings will be published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.