Background: Prior to the use of cisplatin, durable complete remissions of metastatic testis cancer were rare. In 1977, a treatment program including a chemotherapy program of cisplatin, vinblastine, and bleomycin (PVB) led to high response rates and acceptable toxicities in patients with disseminated testis cancer. Since then, the BEP (bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin) regimen has been established as standard therapy for good- and poor-risk disease and ifosfamide-based regimens or high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue as salvage therapy. Methods: The results of those prospective, randomized clinical trials that have markedly improved the outlook of patients with this type of cancer have been reviewed. Results: Categories of risk have been defined. Standard therapy for both good-risk and poor-risk disease remains BEP therapy. High-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow or peripheral stem cell rescue transplantation is being investigated to overcome chemotherapy resistance. Conclusions: While the present state of the art for treating metastatic testicular cancer is promising, approximately one third of patients with 'poor-risk' disease will not achieve a remission. Trials of new agents and approaches are needed to increase patient survival.
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