London – A new test developed by scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research, can identify patients who are at greater risk of suffering a relapse from testicular cancer, even when there is no evidence of tumor spread. The analysis was published in the Clinical Cancer Research Journal.

Usually, most patients have very little chance of suffering a relapse. This motivated the researchers to find a more efficient way so they would not have to submit patients through unnecessary and potentially harmful cancer treatments.

This test could be used in the clinic to make decisions about which patients should be treated with chemotherapy. Photo:

“Chemotherapy is extremely effective in treating testicular cancer, but it can have long-term consequences for a patient’s health and well-being. Patients deemed at low risk of relapse could simply be monitored and potentially could avoid chemotherapy.” said Janet Shipley, a professor of cancer molecular pathology at The Institute of Cancer Research, in a press release, as Eurekalert reported

Scientists evaluated 177 tumor samples from patients with stage I of non-seminomatous tumours, registered in clinical trials through the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit.


The scientists discovered three different features of the tumours, and determined they were significant indicators of possible relapses. The three features are: the levels of a molecule called CXCL12; the percentage of the tumor with an appearance of cancer stem cells; and whether or not blood vessels were present in the tumor. 

Based on these features, the researchers scored tumours and discovered that the combining scores could split patients up into three different risk groups that established how probably patients were to suffer a relapse of testicular cancer within a period of two years. 

The findings showed that 94.3 percent of patients were not going to suffer from a relapse for two years, while 65.9 percent of patients were not going to suffer from a relapse at all. What came to their surprise, was that only 30 percent of patients were relapse-free in the group which was at higher risk .

“Our research has led to the development of a test that can detect patients that will benefit from treatment up front and spare those who are at lower risk from the side-effects of chemotherapy,” said Dr. Shipley.

Source: Eurekalert