Research Article| Volume 42, ISSUE 12, P1775-1779, August 2006

Activity of thalidomide in patients with platinum-refractory germ-cell tumours

  • O. Rick
    Klinikum Reinhardshöhe, Fachklinik für Onkologische Rehabilitation, Quellenstrasse 8-12, 34527 Bad Wildungen, Germany
    Search for articles by this author
  • T. Braun
    Department of Oncology and Hematology, Universitätsklinikum Charité, Campus Mitte, Humboldt Universität, Schumann Str. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany
    Search for articles by this author
  • W. Siegert
    Department of Oncology and Hematology, Universitätsklinikum Charité, Campus Mitte, Humboldt Universität, Schumann Str. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany
    Search for articles by this author
  • J. Beyer
    Corresponding author: Tel.: +49 751 87 2080; fax: +49 751 87 2095.
    Department of Hematology and Oncology, Universitätsklinikum Marburg, Klinikum der Philipps Universitat Marburg, Baldingerstrasse, 35033 Marburg, Germany
    Search for articles by this author


      The aim of this study was assess the activity of thalidomide in patients with progressive relapsed or platinum-refractory germ-cell tumours (GCT). Between April 2002 and January 2003, 15 patients with inoperable progressive GCT were treated with escalated daily doses of 200–600 mg thalidomide. All patients had failed first-line and salvage chemotherapy with a median of 6 (range 4–12) cisplatin-based treatment cycles, 13/15 (87%) patients had received high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and 8/15 (53%) patients were considered platinum-refractory or absolute refractory; 8/15 (53%) patients had previously received other palliative chemotherapy regimens. No patient achieved a complete remission (CR) or partial remission (PR). However, 5/15 (33%) patients achieved serological PR and 1 additional patient had stable disease for 3 months. The median duration of remissions was 3 months (range 2–12 months) including 2 patients with a progression-free survival of 9 and 12 months. Responses occurred mainly in patients with a low tumour burden, slow disease progression and alpha-foetoprotein (AFP) elevations. Responses to thalidomide were independent from platinum-sensitivity. Toxicity was mild, with lethargy and constipation in the majority of patients. Skin rash grade II developed in 2 patients and peripheral neurotoxicity grade II/III developed in 4 patients. One responding patient died suddenly from an unknown cause. It is concluded that thalidomide shows single-agent activity in patients with heavily pre-treated GCT, AFP elevations and slowly progressive disease.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to European Journal of Cancer
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Bosl G.
        • Motzer R.J.
        Testicular germ-cell cancer.
        N Engl J Med. 1997; 337: 242-254
        • Pont J.
        • Bokemeyer C.
        • Harstrick A.
        • Sellner F.
        • Greinix H.
        • Stoiber F.
        Chemotherapy for germ cell tumors relapsing after high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell support: a retrospective multicenter study of the Austrian Study Group on Urologic Oncology.
        Ann Oncol. 1997; 8: 1229-1234
        • Kollmannsberger C.
        • Schleucher N.
        • Rick O.
        • et al.
        Analysis of salvage treatments for germ cell cancer patients who have relapsed after primary high-dose chemotherapy plus autologous stem cell support.
        Eur J Cancer. 2003; 39: 775-782
        • Porcu P.
        • Bhatia S.
        • Sharma M.
        • Einhorn L.H.
        Results of treatment after relapse from high-dose chemotherapy in germ cell tumors.
        J Clin Oncol. 2000; 18: 1181-1186
        • Kumar S.
        • Witzig T.E.
        • Rajkumar S.V.
        Thalidomide: current role in the treatment of non-plasma cell malignancies.
        J Clin Oncol. 2004; 22: 2477-2488
        • Fukuda S.
        • Shirahama T.
        • Imazono Y.
        • et al.
        Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in patients with testicular germ cell tumors as an indicator of metastatic disease.
        Cancer. 1999; 85: 1323-1330
        • Aigner A.
        • Brachmann P.
        • Beyer J.
        • et al.
        Marked increase of the growth factors pleiotrophin and fibroblast growth factor-2 in serum of testicular cancer patients.
        Ann Oncol. 2003; 14: 1525-1529
        • Rick O.
        • Bokemeyer C.
        • Beyer J.
        • et al.
        Salvage treatment with paclitaxel, ifosfamide, and cisplatin plus high-dose carboplatin, etoposide, and thiotepa followed by autologous stem-cell rescue in patients with relapsed or refractory germ cell cancer.
        J Clin Oncol. 2001; 19: 81-88
      1. National Cancer Institute. Common Toxicity Criteria v2.0 (CTC). Updated 18th August 1999. Available from