Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation in the Treatment of Germ-Cell Tumors

Number 8.01.35

Effective Date July 24, 2013

Revision Date(s) 06/10/13; 12/11/12; 08/09/11; 09/14/10; 05/12/09; 12/11/07; 08/08/06; 05/10/05; 01/01/04; 08/12/03; 06/17/03; 06/07/00

Replaces N/A


Single autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation may be considered medically necessary as salvage therapy for germ-cell tumors:

  • In patients with favorable prognostic factors that have failed a previous course of conventional-dose salvage chemotherapy; or
  • In patients with unfavorable prognostic factors as initial treatment of first relapse (i.e., without a course of conventional-dose salvage chemotherapy) and in patients with platinum-refractory disease. (See Policy Guidelines for prognostic factors.)

Tandem or sequential autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation may be considered medically necessary for the treatment of testicular tumors either as salvage therapy or with platinum-refractory disease.

Autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation is considered investigational as a component of first-line treatment for germ-cell tumors.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation is considered investigational to treat germ-cell tumors, including, but not limited to its use as therapy after a prior failed autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation.

Related Policies


Placental and Umbilical Cord Blood as a Source of Stem-Cells


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Plasma Cell Dyscrasias, Including Multiple Myeloma and POEMS Syndrome


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas


Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Myeloproliferative Neoplasms


Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Genetic Diseases and Acquired Anemias


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Epithelial Ovarian Cancer


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Miscellaneous Solid Tumors in Adults


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Autoimmune Diseases


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Acute Myeloid Leukemia


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Breast Cancer


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for CNS Embryonal Tumors and Ependymoma


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Hodgkin Lymphoma


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Treatment of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Solid Tumors of Childhood


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Policy Guidelines

The favorable and unfavorable prognostic factors listed below are derived from the current National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines (1) and Devita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s textbook Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. (2)

Patients with favorable prognostic factors include those with a testis or retroperitoneal primary site, a complete response to initial chemotherapy, low levels of serum markers and low volume disease. Patients with unfavorable prognostic factors are those with an incomplete response to initial therapy or relapsing mediastinal nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors.

In 2003, CPT centralized codes describing allogeneic and autologous hematopoietic stem -cell support services to the hematology section (CPT 38204–38242). Not all codes are applicable for each high-dose chemotherapy stem -cell support procedure. For example, Plans should determine if cryopreservation is performed. A range of codes describes services associated with cryopreservation, storage, and thawing of cells (38208–38215).

CPT 38208–38209 describe thawing and washing of cryopreserved cells

CPT 38210–38214 describe certain cell types being depleted

CPT 38215 describes plasma cell concentration


Therapy for germ-cell tumors is generally dictated by several factors, including disease stage, tumor histology, site of tumor primary and response to chemotherapy.

Patients with unfavorable prognostic factors may be candidates for hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation.


Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation

Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) refers to a procedure in which hematopoietic stem cells are infused to restore bone marrow function in cancer patients who receive bone -marrow -toxic doses of cytotoxic drugs with or without whole -body radiation therapy. Hematopoietic stem cells may be obtained from the transplant recipient (autologous HSCT) or from a donor (allogeneic HSCT). They can be harvested from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood shortly after delivery of neonates. Although cord blood is an allogeneic source, the stem cells in it are antigenically “naïve” and thus are associated with a lower incidence of rejection or graft -versus -host disease (GVHD). Cord blood is discussed in greater detail in a separate medical policy. (See Related Policies)

Immunologic compatibility between infused hematopoietic stem cells and the recipient is not an issue in autologous HSCT. However, immunologic compatibility between donor and patient is a critical factor for achieving a good outcome of allogeneic HSCT. Compatibility is established by typing of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) using cellular, serologic, or molecular techniques. HLA refers to the tissue type expressed at the Class I and Class II loci on chromosome 6. Depending on the disease being treated, an acceptable donor will match the patient at all or most of the HLA loci (with the exception of umbilical cord blood).

Conventional Preparative Conditioning for HSCT

The success of autologous HSCT is predicated on the ability of cytotoxic chemotherapy with or without radiation to eradicate cancerous cells from the blood and bone marrow. This permits subsequent engraftment and repopulation of bone marrow space with presumably normal hematopoietic stem cells obtained from the patient prior to undergoing bone marrow ablation. As a consequence, autologous HSCT is typically performed as consolidation therapy when the patient’s disease is in complete remission. Patients who undergo autologous HSCT are susceptible to chemotherapy-related toxicities and opportunistic infections prior to engraftment but usually not GVHD.

The conventional (“classical”) practice of allogeneic HSCT involves administration of cytotoxic agents (e.g., cyclophosphamide, busulfan) with or without total -body irradiation at doses sufficient to destroy endogenous hematopoietic capability in the recipient. The beneficial treatment effect in this procedure is due to a combination of initial eradication of malignant cells and subsequent graft-versus-malignancy (GVM) effect mediated by non-selfimmunologic effector cells that develop after engraftment of allogeneic stem cells within the patient’s bone marrow space. While the slower GVM effect is considered to be the potentially curative component, it may be overwhelmed by extant disease without the use of pretransplant conditioning. However, intense conditioning regimens are limited to patients who are sufficiently fit medically to tolerate substantial adverse effects that include pre-engraftment opportunistic infections secondary to loss of endogenous bone marrow function and organ damage and failure caused by the cytotoxic drugs. Furthermore, in any allogeneic HSCT, immune suppressant drugs are required to minimize graft rejection and GVHD, which also increases susceptibility of the patient to opportunistic infections.

Reduced-Intensity Conditioning for Allogeneic HSCT

Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) refers to the pretransplant use of lower doses or less intense regimens of cytotoxic drugs or radiation than are used in traditional full-dose myeloablative conditioning treatments. The goal of RIC is to reduce disease burden but also to minimize as much as possible associated treatment-related morbidity and nonrelapse mortality (NRM) in the period during which the beneficial GVM effect of allogeneic transplantation develops. Although the definition of RIC remains arbitrary, with numerous versions employed, all seek to balance the competing effects of NRM and relapse due to residual disease. RIC regimens can be viewed as a continuum in effects, from nearly totally myeloablative, to minimally myeloablative with lymphoablation, with intensity tailored to specific diseases and patient condition. Patients who undergo RIC with allogeneic HSCT initially demonstrate donor cell engraftment and bone marrow mixed chimerism. Most will subsequently convert to full-donor chimerism, which may be supplemented with donor lymphocyte infusions to eradicate residual malignant cells.

For the purposes of this Policy, the term “reduced-intensity conditioning” will refer to all conditioning regimens intended to be non-myeloablative, as opposed to fully myeloablative (traditional) regimens.

Germ-Cell Tumors

Germ-cell tumors are composed primarily of testicular neoplasms (seminomas or nonseminomatous tumors) but also include ovarian and extragonadal germ-cell tumors (e.g., retroperitoneal or mediastinal tumors). Germ-cell tumors are classified according to their histology, stage, prognosis, and response to chemotherapy.

Histologies include seminoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, choriocarcinoma, yolk sac tumor, and mixed germ-cell tumors. Seminomas are the most common; all other types are collectively referred to as nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors.

Stage is dependent on location and extent of the tumor, using the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM system. TNM stages, modified by serum concentrations of markers for tumor burden (S0-3) when available, are grouped by similar prognoses. Markers used for germ-cell tumors include human beta-chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and alpha fetoprotein (AFP). However, most patients with pure seminoma have normal AFP concentrations. For testicular tumors, Stages IA-B have tumors limited to the testis (no involved nodes or distant metastases) and no marker elevations (S0); Stages IIA-C have increasing size and number of tumor-involved lymph nodes, and at least one marker moderately elevated above the normal range (S1); and Stages IIIA-C have distant metastases and/or marker elevations greater than specified thresholds (S2-3).

Germ-cell tumors also are divided into good-, intermediate-, or poor -risk categories based on histology, site, and extent of primary tumor, and on serum marker levels. Good-risk pure seminomas can be at any primary site but are without nonpulmonary visceral metastases or marker elevations. Intermediate -risk pure seminomas have nonpulmonary visceral metastases with or without elevated hCG and/or LDH. There are no poor -risk pure seminomas, but mixed histology tumors and seminomas with elevated AFP (due to mixture with nonseminomatous components) are managed as nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors. Good- and intermediate -risk nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors have testicular or retroperitoneal tumors without nonpulmonary visceral metastases, and either S1 (good risk) or S2 (intermediate) levels of marker elevations. Poor -risk tumors have mediastinal primary tumors, or nonpulmonary visceral metastases, or the highest level (S3) of marker elevations.

Therapy for germ-cell tumors is generally dictated by stage, risk subgroup, and tumor histology. Testicular cancer is divided into seminomatous and nonseminomatous types for treatment planning because seminomas are more sensitive to radiation therapy. Stage I testicular seminomas may be treated by orchiectomy with or without radiation or single-dose carboplatin adjuvant therapy. Nonseminomatous stage I testicular tumors may be treated with orchiectomy with or without retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. Higher stage disease typically involves treatment that incorporates chemotherapy. First-line chemotherapy for good- and intermediate-risk patients with higher-stage disease is usually 3 or 4 cycles of a regimen combining cisplatin and etoposide, with or without bleomycin depending on histology and risk group. Chemotherapy is often followed by surgery to remove residual masses. Second-line therapy often consists of combined therapy with ifosfamide/mesna and cisplatin, plus vinblastine, paclitaxel, or etoposide (if not used for first-line treatment). Patients whose tumors are resistant to cisplatin may receive carboplatin-containing regimens. The probability of long-term continuous complete remission diminishes with each successive relapse.


Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply.

Benefit Application



The literature search for this policy was updated through mid-March 2013.

Autologous Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation (HSCT) as Front-line Therapy of Germ-Cell Tumors

Daugaard and colleagues reported the outcomes of a randomized Phase III study comparing standard-dose BEP (cisplatin, etoposide, and bleomycin) to sequential high-dose VIP (cisplatin, etoposide, and ifosfamide) plus stem-cell support in previously untreated males with poor-prognosis germ-cell cancer. (3) The study aimed to recruit 222 patients but closed with 137 patients from 27 European oncology centers due to slow accrual. Patients were age 15-50 years and had previously untreated metastatic poor-prognosis nonseminomatous germ-cell tumor of either testicular or extragonadal origin. Median follow-up was 4.4 years. Toxicity was more severe in the patients who received high-dose chemotherapy, and toxic death was reported in 2 patients who received high-dose chemotherapy and one in the BEP arm. There was no improvement in complete response rate in the high-dose chemotherapy arm versus the standard-dose arm (44.6% vs. 33.3%, respectively, p=0.18). There was no difference in failure-free survival between the two groups. At 2 years, failure-free survival was 44.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 32.5-56.4) and 58.2% (95% CI: 48.0-71.9), respectively, for the standard- and high-dose arms. The difference was not statistically significant (p=0.06). Overall survival did not differ between the two groups (log-rank p>0.1). The authors concluded that high-dose chemotherapy given as part of first-line therapy does not improve outcomes in patients with poor-prognosis germ-cell tumor.

Motzer and colleagues reported on a Phase III prospective, randomized, multicenter trial of 219 previously untreated patients with poor-prognosis germ-cell tumors. (4) The median patient age was 28 years. Patients were randomized to receive either conventional chemotherapy (four cycles of BEP) (n=111), or 2 cycles of BEP followed by two cycles of high-dose chemotherapy with autologous HSCT. Median follow-up was 51 months. One-year durable complete response rate was 52% after BEP and high-dose chemotherapy with HSCT, and 48% after BEP alone (p=0.53). There was no survival difference at 106 months for patients treated with high-dose chemotherapy and HSCT compared to the patients treated with conventional chemotherapy (68% and 69%, respectively).

Droz and colleagues assessed the impact of high-dose chemotherapy with HSCT on the survival of patients with high-volume, previously untreated, metastatic nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors. (5) Patients were randomized to four cycles every 21 days of vinblastine, etoposide, cisplatin and bleomycin (n=57) or a slightly modified regimen followed by high-dose chemotherapy and autologous HSCT (n=57). In an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis, there were 56% and 42% complete responses in the conventional and high-dose chemotherapy groups, respectively (p=0.099). Median follow-up was 9.7 years, and no significant difference between overall survival (OS) was observed (p=0.167).

Autologous HSCT for Relapsed or Refractory Germ-cell Tumors

Agarwal and colleagues reported their experience at Stanford in treating 37 consecutive patients who received high-dose chemotherapy and autologous HSCT between 1995 and 2005 for relapsed germ-cell tumors. (6) The median patient age was 28 years (range: 9–59 years), with 34 males and three females. Primary tumor sites included 24 testes/adnexal, 10 chest/neck/retroperitoneal, and 3 central nervous system (CNS). Twenty-nine of the patients had received prior standard salvage chemotherapy. Three -year OS was 57% (95% CI: 41-71%), and three year progression-free survival (PFS) was 49% (95% CI: 33–64%).

In 2005, Pico and colleagues reported on a randomized trial comparing four cycles of conventional-dose chemotherapy to three cycles of the same regimen followed by carboplatin-based high-dose chemotherapy plus autologous HSCT in 280 patients who had relapsed after a complete or partial remission following first-line therapy with a cisplatin-based regimen. (7) The authors reported no significant differences between treatment arms in three-year event-free survival (EFS) and OS. However, the study began before international consensus (8) established the current risk group definitions; thus, Pico and colleagues likely included some patients now considered to have good prognosis at relapse. Furthermore, while 77% and 86% of patients in the control and experimental arms, respectively, had at least one elevated serum tumor marker, they did not report how highly elevated these were and did not compare arms with respect to the marker thresholds that presently determine risk level (S1-3). Finally, high-dose chemotherapy in the experimental arm followed three cycles of conventional-dose chemotherapy, which differs from most current practice in the U.S., in which a single cycle is used prior to high-dose chemotherapy. As a consequence, 38 of 135 (28%) randomized to the high-dose chemotherapy arm did not receive high-dose chemotherapy because of progression, toxicity, or withdrawal of consent.

Seftel and colleagues conducted a multicenter cohort study of consecutive patients undergoing a single autologous HSCT for germ-cell tumor between January 1986 and December 2004. (9) Of 71 subjects, median follow-up was 10.1 years. The median age was 31 years (range 16–58 years). A total of 67 of the patients had nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors and 4 had seminomatous germ-cell tumors. A total of 57 patients had primary gonadal disease and 14 had primary extragonadal disease. Of the latter, 11 patients presented with primary mediastinal disease, 2 presented with primary central nervous system disease, and 1 presented with retroperitoneal disease. In all, 28 patients underwent autologous HSCT for relapsed disease after achieving an initial complete response (CR). Of these, 24 patients underwent autologous HSCT after a first relapse, whereas 4 patients underwent transplant after a second relapse. An additional 36 patients achieved only an incomplete response after initial therapy and proceeded to autologous HSCT after salvage chemotherapy for active residual disease. Overall survival at 5 years was 44.7% (95% CI: 32.9–56.5%) and EFS, 43.5% (95% CI: 31.4–55.1%). There were 7 (10%) treatment-related deaths within 100 days of transplant. Three (4.2%) patients developed secondary malignancies. Of 33 relapses, 31 occurred within 2 years of the transplant. Two very late relapses occurred 13 and 11 years after transplant. In a multivariate analysis, a favorable outcome was associated with International Germ Cell Consensus Classification (IGCCC) good prognosis disease at diagnosis, primary gonadal disease, and response to salvage chemotherapy.

Tandem and Sequential HSCT for Germ-Cell Tumors

Lazarus and colleagues reported the results of autologous HSCT in relapsed testicular/germ-cell cancer from registry data from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. (10) Patients with mediastinal primaries were excluded. Data included 300 patients from 76 transplant centers in 8 countries who received either a single transplant or tandem autologous HSCT between 1989 and 2001. Of the 300 patients, 102 received tandem, and 198 single planned autologous HSCT. PFS and OS at one, three and five years was similar for both groups. The probability of PFS at 5 years for the tandem transplant group was 34% (95% CI: 25–44%) versus 38% (95% CI: 31–45%) in the single transplant group; p=0.50. The probability of 5-year OS was 35% (95% CI: 25–46%) versus 42% (95% CI: 35–49%), respectively; p=0.29.

Lorch and colleagues compared single- versus sequential high-dose chemotherapy with autologous HSCT as first or subsequent salvage treatment in patients with relapsed or refractory germ-cell tumors. (11) Between November 1999 and November 2004, patients planned to be recruited in a prospective, randomized, multicenter trial comparing one cycle of cisplatin, etoposide, and ifosfamide (VIP) plus three cycles of high-dose carboplatin and etoposide (CE; arm A) versus three cycles of VIP plus one cycle of high-dose carboplatin, etoposide and cyclophosphamide (CEC; arm B). The majority of the tumors were gonadal primaries; ten percent of patients in arm A had retroperitoneal, mediastinal or central nervous system (CNS) primaries, and 11% of patients in arm B had retroperitoneal or mediastinal primaries. This represented the first salvage therapy received in 86% of the patients in arm A and 85% in arm B, whereas 14% (arm A) and 15% (arm B) had received one or more previous salvage regimens prior to randomization. One-hundred-eleven (51%) of 216 patients were randomly assigned to sequential high-dose therapy, and 105 (47%) of 216 patients were randomly assigned to single high-dose therapy. The study was stopped prematurely after recruitment of 216 patients as a result of excess treatment-related mortality (TRM) in arm B. There was a planned interim analysis after the inclusion of 50% of the required total number of patients. Survival analyses were performed on an ITT basis.

With a median follow-up time of 36 months, 109 (52%) of 211 patients were alive, and 91 (43%) of 211 patients were progression -free. At one year, event-free, progression-free, and overall survival rates were 40%, 53%, and 80%, respectively, in arm A compared with 37%, 49%, and 61%, respectively, in arm B (p >0.05 for all comparisons). Survival rates were not reported separately by primary site of the tumor. No difference in survival probabilities was found between the single and sequential high-dose regimens; however, sequential high-dose therapy was better tolerated and resulted in fewer treatment-related deaths. Treatment-related deaths, mainly as a result of sepsis and cardiac toxicity, were less frequent in arm A (four of 108 patients, 4%) compared with arm B (16 of 103 patients, 16%; p <0.01). The authors state that the higher treatment-related deaths observed in arm B likely were due to the higher dosages per HSCT cycle in the arm B regimen compared to arm A, and the toxic renal and cardiac effects of cyclophosphamide used in arm B. The authors conclude that sequential treatment at submaximal doses of carboplatin and etoposide might be less toxic and safer to deliver HSCT in pretreated patients with germ-cell tumors than single HSCT.

Long-term results from this study reported 5-year PFS as 47% (95% CI: 37-56%) in arm A and 45% (95% CI: 35-55%) in arm B (hazard ratio, [HR]:1.16; 95% CI: 0.79-1.70; p=.454). Five-year OS was 49% (95% CI: 40-59%) in arm A and 39% (95% CI: 30-49%) in arm B (HR: 1.42; 95% CI: 0.99-2.05; p=.057). The authors concluded that patients with relapsed or refractory germ-cell tumors can achieve durable long-term survival after single, as well as sequential HSCT and that fewer early deaths related to toxicity translated into superior long-term OS after sequential HSCT. (12)

Lotz and colleagues reported the results of a Phase II study on three consecutive cycles of high-dose chemotherapy regimens supported by autologous HSCT in 45 poor-prognosis patients with relapsed germ-cell tumors. (13) From March 1998 to September 2001 (median follow-up, 31.8 months), 45 patients (median age, 28 years) were enrolled. Most of the patients (76%) had testicular primaries; 13% had mediastinal primaries; 11% retroperitoneal, hepatic, or unknown. Of all patients, 22 received the complete course. Twenty-five patients died from progression and five from toxicity. The overall response rate was 37.7%, including an 8.9% complete response rate. The median OS was 11.8 months. The three-year survival and PFS rate was 23.5%. The authors used the “Beyer” prognostic score to predict the outcome of high-dose chemotherapy and concluded that patients with a Beyer score greater than two did not benefit from this approach, confirming that highly refractory patients and particularly patients with resistant/refractory primary mediastinal germ-cell tumors do not benefit from high-dose chemotherapy. The authors also state that better selection criteria have to be fulfilled in forthcoming studies.

Einhorn and colleagues reported retrospectively on a series of 184 patients, treated between 1996 and 2004, with two consecutive cycles of high-dose chemotherapy for metastatic testicular cancer that had progressed (relapsed) after receiving cisplatin-containing combination chemotherapy. (14) Patients with primary mediastinal nonseminomatous germ-cell tumors or tumors with late relapse (2 or greater years after previous therapy) were excluded. The patient population included those with initial International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative Group (IGCCCG) stage defined as low risk (39%), intermediate risk (21%), and high risk (41%) and both platinum-sensitive and refractory disease at the beginning of high-dose chemotherapy. Results from this experienced center showed that of the 184 patients, 116 had complete remission of disease without relapse during a median follow-up of 48 months. Of the 135 patients who received the treatment as second-line therapy (i.e., first salvage setting), 94 (70%) were disease-free during follow-up; 22 (45%) of 49 patients who received treatment as third-line or later therapy were disease-free. Of 40 patients with cancer that was refractory to standard-dose platinum, 18 (45%) were disease-free.

Letters to the editor regarding the Einhorn et al. study noted the lack of a validation set for the prognostic scoring system used in the study, the unanswered question of the role of high-dose versus conventional-dose chemotherapy in the first salvage setting, and the lack of a universally accepted prognostic scoring system in this setting.

A comparative effectiveness review conducted for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on the use of HSCT in the pediatric population concluded that, for germ-cell tumors, the body of evidence on overall survival with tandem HSCT compared to single HSCT for the treatment of relapsed pediatric germ-cell tumors was insufficient to draw conclusions. (15)

Allogeneic HSCT for Germ-cell Tumors

There are scant data in the literature to support the use of allogeneic HSCT in the treatment of germ-cell tumors. (16)


Salvage therapy plays a role in patients with germ-cell tumors who are either refractory to cisplatin or who relapse after initial treatment. The timing for the use of high-dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) instead of standard salvage chemotherapy is less well-defined, with patient heterogeneity playing a role in the overall outcome. Studies have been limited trying to stratify patients into various prognostic groups to identify those who are high-risk, as only 30% of patients with germ-cell tumors require salvage treatment. The use of high-dose chemotherapy and HSCT as first-line therapy has not been shown to be superior to standard chemotherapy; HSCT remains the treatment of choice for patients who fail standard salvage therapy.

The role of tandem or sequential autologous transplants in relapsed disease has been investigated in one Phase II study, one randomized study, and two retrospective series (one single-center experience and one registry data from multiple centers), and a comparative effectiveness review for AHRQ. Tandem or sequential HSCT may provide survival benefit, and the randomized study showed lower treatment-related mortality with sequential HSCT compared to single HSCT. However, studies have included heterogeneous patient populations, in different salvage treatment settings (i.e., first versus subsequent salvage therapy) and have suffered from the lack of a universally accepted prognostic scoring system to risk-stratify patients. Tandem or sequential HSCT has not shown benefit in patients with primary mediastinal germ-cell tumors. Strong clinical support was received from clinical experts in support of the use of tandem or sequential HSCT in the salvage or platinum-refractory setting.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines (1)

NCCN guidelines (v.1.2012) for the treatment of testicular cancer state that if a patient with favorable prognostic factors (defined as testicular primary site, prior complete response to first -line therapy, low levels of serum markers and low -volume disease) has disease recurrence after prior chemotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy is an option, or if a patient with disease recurrence undergoes conventional-dose chemotherapy and experiences an incomplete response or relapses, high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem -cell support is category 2A recommendation. Patients with unfavorable prognostic factors (e.g., an incomplete response to prior chemotherapy, high levels of serum markers, high -volume disease, extratesticular primary or late relapse) and disease recurrence are considered for treatment with high-dose chemotherapy plus autologous stem -cell support (category 2B). The guidelines do not address the use of tandem or sequential HSCT in the treatment of testicular tumors.

Ongoing Clinical Trials

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Trial Database (PDQ®)

A search of the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query database identified the following Phase III randomized study:

  • Salvage Using Cisplatin, Etoposide, and Ifosfamide (PEI) or Vinblastine, Ifosfamide, and Cisplatin (VeIP) With or Without High-Dose Carboplatin, Etoposide, and Cyclophosphamide, Followed by Autologous Bone Marrow and/or Peripheral Blood Stem -Cell Transplantation in Male Patients With Germ -Cell Tumors in Relapse or First Partial Remission (NCT00002566). Expected enrollment is 280 patients. Trial status is unknown.

Clinical Input Received Through Physician Specialty Societies and Academic Medical Centers

In response to requests, input was received from three physician specialty societies, three academic medical centers and five Blue Distinction Centers for Transplants while this policy was under review for March 2010. While the various physician specialty societies and academic medical centers may collaborate with and make recommendations during this process through the provision of appropriate reviewers, input received does not represent an endorsement or position statement by the physician specialty societies or academic medical centers, unless otherwise noted. There was general agreement with the policy statements regarding the use of single autologous HSCT as salvage therapy, the use of autologous HSCT as first-line treatment, and the use of allogeneic HSCT. Seven of the reviewers felt that tandem or sequential HSCT is medically necessary for patients as salvage therapy or with platinum-refractory disease; two reviewers felt that tandem or sequential HSCT was investigational; two stated that commenting on this was beyond his/her area of expertise.


  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Testicular cancer. Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. V.1.2012. Available online at: Last accessed May 2013.
  2. Bosl G. Cancer of the testis. In: Devita, Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 8th ed., 2008, chapter 41, pp. 1463-85.
  3. Daugaard G, Skoneczna I, Aass N et al. A randomized phase III study comparing standard dose BEP with sequential high-dose cisplatin, etoposide, and ifosfamide (VIP) plus stem-cell support in males with poor-prognosis germ-cell cancer. An intergroup study of EORTC, GTCSG, and Grupo Germinal (EORTC 30974). Ann Oncol 2011; 22(5):1054-61.
  4. Motzer RJ, Nichols CJ, Margolin KA et al. Phase III randomized trial of conventional-dose chemotherapy with or without high-dose chemotherapy and autologous hematopoietic stem-cell rescue as first-line treatment for patients with poor-prognosis metastatic germ cell tumors. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25(3):247-56.
  5. Droz JP, Kramar A, Biron P et al. Failure of high-dose cyclophosphamide and etoposide combined with double-dose cisplatin and bone marrow support in patients with high-volume metastatic nonseminomatous germ-cell tumours: mature results of a randomized trial. Eur Urol 2007; 51(3):739-48.
  6. Agarwal R, Dvorak CC, Stockerl-Goldstein KE et al. High-dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell rescue for high-risk germ cell tumors: the Stanford experience. Bone Marrow Transplant 2009; 43(7):547-52.
  7. Pico JL, Rosti G, Kramar A et al. A randomised trial of high-dose chemotherapy in the salvage treatment of patients failing first-line platinum chemotherapy for advanced germcell tumours. Ann Oncol 2005; 16(7):1152-9.
  8. International GCCCG. International germ Cell Consensus Classification: a prognostic factor-based staging system for metastatic germcell cancers. J Clin Oncol 1997;15(2-Jan):594-603.
  9. Seftel MD, Paulson K, Doocey R et al. Long-term follow-up of patients undergoing auto-SCT for advanced germ cell tumour: a multicentre cohort study. Bone Marrow Transplant 2011; 46(6):852-7.
  10. Lazarus HM, Stiff PJ, Carreras J et al. Utility of single versus tandem autotransplants for advanced testes/germ cell cancer: A center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) analysis. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2007; 13(7):778-9.
  11. Lorch A, Kollmannsberger C, Hartmann JT et al. Single versus sequential high-dose chemotherapy in patients with relapsed or refractory germcell tumors: a prospective randomized multicenter trial of the German Testicular Cancer Study Group. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25(19): 2778-84.
  12. Lorch A, Kleinhans A, Kramar A et al. Sequential versus single high-dose chemotherapy in patients with relapsed or refractory germ cell tumors: long-term results of a prospective randomized trial. J Clin Oncol 2012; 30(8):800-5.
  13. Lotz JP, Bui B, Gomez F et al. Sequential high-dose chemotherapy protocol for relapsed poor prognosis germcell tumors combining two mobilization and cytoreductive treatments followed by three high-dose chemotherapy regimens supported by autologous stem cell transplantation. Results of the phase II multicentric TAXIF trial. Ann Oncol 2005;16(3):411-8.
  14. Einhorn LH, Williams SD, Chamness A et al. High-dose chemotherapy and stem-cell rescue for metastatic germ-cell tumors. N Engl J Med 2007; 357(4):340-8.
  15. Ratko TA, Belinson SE, Brown HM et al. Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation in the pediatric population. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2012. Available online at Last accessed May 2013.
  16. Goodwin A, Gurney H, Gottlieb D. Allogeneic bone marrow transplant for refractory mediastinal germ cell tumour: possible evidence of graft-versus-tumour effect. Intern Med J 2007; 37(2):127-9.Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in the Treatment of Germ Cell Tumors. Medical Policy Reference Manual, Policy 8.01.35, 2013.







Blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cell harvesting for transplantation, per collection, allogeneic



Blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cell harvesting for transplantation, per collection, autologous



Transplant preparation of hematopoietic progenitor cells; cryopreservation and storage



thawing of previously frozen harvest, without washing



thawing of previously frozen harvest, with washing



Specific cell depletion with harvest, T-cell depletion



Tumor cell depletion



Red blood cell removal



Platelet depletion



Plasma (volume) depletion



Cell concentration in plasma, mononuclear, or buffy coat layer



Bone marrow harvesting for transplantation



Blood-derived peripheral stem cell harvesting for transplantation, per collection



Bone marrow harvesting for transplantation; autologous



Bone marrow or blood derived peripheral stem cell transplantation; allogeneic






Allogeneic donor lymphocyte infusions



HLA typing; A, B, or C (e.g., A10, B7, B27) single antigen



A, B, or C, multiple antigens



DR/DQ, single antigens



HLA typing; DR/DQ, multiple antigens



lymphocyte culture, mixed (MLC)



lymphocyte culture, primed (PLC)



Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) crossmatch, non-cytotoxic (e.g., using flow cytometry); first serum sample or dilution



Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) crossmatch, non-cytotoxic (e.g., using flow cytometry); each additional serum sample or sample dilution (List separately in addition to primary procedure)

ICD-9 Procedure


Autologous bone marrow transplant without purging



Allogeneic bone marrow transplant with purging



Allogeneic bone marrow transplant without purging



Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant without purging



Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant without purging



Cord blood stem cell transplant



Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant with purging



Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant with purging



Autologous bone marrow transplant with purging



Aspiration of bone marrow from donor for transplant



Other therapeutic apheresis (includes harvest of stem cells)

ICD-9 Diagnosis


Malignant neoplasm of retroperitoneum



Malignant neoplasm of anterior mediastinum



Malignant neoplasm of posterior mediastinum



Malignant neoplasm of other



Malignant neoplasm of mediastinum, part unspecified



Malignant neoplasm of ovary



Malignant neoplasm of undescended testis



Malignant neoplasm of other and unspecified testis



Malignant neoplasm of pineal gland

(effective 10/01/14)

C38.1 – C38.3

Malignant neoplasm of mediastinum code range



Malignant neoplasm of retroperitoneum



Malignant neoplasm of ovary code range



Malignant neoplasm of testis, code range



Malignant neoplasm of pineal gland

(effective 10/01/14)

30230G0, 30233G0

Transfusion of autologous bone marrow into peripheral vein, code by approach


30230G1, 30233G1

Transfusion of nonautologous bone marrow into peripheral vein, code by approach


30240G0, 30243G0

Transfusion of autologous bone marrow into central vein, code by approach


30240G1, 30243G1

Transfusion of nonautologous bone marrow into central vein, code by approach


30250G0, 30253G0

Transfusion of autologous bone marrow into peripheral artery, code by approach


30250G1, 30253G1

Transfusion of nonautologous bone marrow into peripheral artery, code by approach


30260G0, 30263G0

Transfusion of autologous bone marrow into central artery, code by approach


30260G1, 30263G1

Transfusion of nonautologous bone marrow into central artery, code by approach


3E03005, 3E03305

Introduction of other antineoplastic into peripheral vein, code by approach


3E04005, 3E04305

Introduction of other antineoplastic into central vein, code by approach


3E05005, 3E05305

Introduction of other antineoplastic into peripheral artery, code by approach


3E06005, 3E06305

Introduction of other antineoplastic into central artery, code by approach


30230AZ, 30233AZ

Transfusion of stem cells, embryonic into peripheral vein, code by approach


30230Y0, 30233Y0

Transfusion of autologous stem cells, hematopoietic into peripheral vein, code by approach


30240AZ, 0243AZ

Transfusion of stem cells, embryonic into central vein, code by approach


30240Y0, 30243Y0

Transfusion of autologous stem cells, hematopoietic into central vein, code by approach


30250Y0, 30253Y0

Transfusion of autologous stem cells, hematopoietic into peripheral artery, code by approach


30260Y0, 30263Y0

Transfusion of autologous stem cells, hematopoietic into central artery, code by approach


30230Y1, 30233Y1

Transfusion of nonautologous stem cells, hematopoietic into peripheral vein, code by approach


30240Y1, 30243Y1

Transfusion of nonautologous stem cells, hematopoietic into central vein, code by approach


30250Y1, 30253Y1

Transfusion of nonautologous stem cells, hematopoietic into peripheral artery, code by approach


30260Y1, 30263Y1

Transfusion of nonautologous stem cells, hematopoietic into central artery, code by approach


079T00Z, 079T30Z, 079T40Z

Drainage of bone marrow with drainage device, code by approach


079T0ZZ, 079T4ZZ

Drainage of bone marrow, code by approach


07DQ0ZZ, 07DQ3ZZ

Extraction of sternum bone marrow, code by approach


07DR0ZZ, 07DR3ZZ

Extraction of iliac bone marrow, code by approach


07DS0ZZ, 07DS3ZZ

Extraction of vertebral bone marrow, code by approach


6A550ZT, 6A551ZT

Pheresis of cord blood stem cells, code for single or multiple


6A550ZV, 6A551ZV

Pheresis of hematopoietic stem cells, code for single or multiple



Cord blood harvesting for transplantation, allogeneic



Cord blood derived stem cell transplantation, allogeneic



Bone marrow or blood-derived stem cells (peripheral or umbilical), allogeneic or autologous, harvesting, transplantation, and related complications including pheresis and cell preparation/storage; marrow ablative therapy; drugs, supplies, hospitalization with outpatient follow-up; medical/surgical, diagnostic, emergency, and rehabilitative services; and the number of days of pre- and posttransplant care in the global definition

Type of Service



Place of Service

Inpatient / Outpatient








Add to Therapy Section - New Policy


Replace policy - Update CPT codes only


Replace policy - Policy updated; policy statement unchanged. Reviewed and recommended for adoption by Company Oncology Advisory Panel July 22, 2003.


Replace policy - CPT code updates only.


Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review; no change to policy statement.


Scope and Disclaimer Update - No other changes.


Replace policy - Literature review update; description and medically necessary policy statement reworded regarding poor-risk germ-cell tumors; policy statement otherwise unchanged.


Replace policy - Policy updated with literature review; no change in policy statement; references added. Reviewed and recommended by OAP on November 15, 2007.


Codes Updated - CPT code 86817 deleted as directed by RPIW.


Cross Reference Update - No other changes


Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search; no change to the policy statement (terminology HDC deleted, SCT incorporated). Rationale extensively revised. HDC deleted from title reflecting the update to policy. References added. Reviewed and recommended by OAP on February 19, 2009.


Code Update - 86817 added back to policy.


Code Update - New 2010 codes added.


Replace policy - Policy updated with literature search. Policy statement changed to indicate tandem-sequential autologous SCT may be considered medically necessary in certain types of testicular cancers. References added. Policy extensively revised. Reviewed by OAP on August 19, 2010.


Replace policy – Policy updated with literature search; reference 1 updated, reference 3 added. ICD-10 codes added to policy. Related Policy titles updated.


Codes 38220 and 38221 removed from policy.


Code 38232 added.


The CPT code 38204 was removed from the policy.


Minor update: Related Policies updated; 8.01.17 replaced 8.01.507 effective June 12, 2012.


Updated Related Policies Titles: 8.01.17, 8.01.22, 8.01.514, and 8.01.520.


Update Coding Section – ICD-10 codes are now effective 10/01/2014.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature review. References 9 and 15 added; reference 17 updated. References renumbered. No change in policy statements.


Update Related Policies, change title of policy 8.01.21.


The following codes were removed from the policy, as they were not suspending and just informational: HCPCS J9000-J999 and Q0083 – Q0085.


Replace policy. Policy updated with literature review through mid-March 2013. Reference 12 added. No change in policy statements.


Update Related Policies. Change title to policy 8.01.31.


Update Related Policies. Change title to policy 8.01.17.


Update Related Policies. Remove 8.01.31 as it was archived.


Update Related Policies. Change title to 8.01.29.


Update Related Policies. Delete 8.01.514 and replace with 8.01.15.

Disclaimer: This medical policy is a guide in evaluating the medical necessity of a particular service or treatment. The Company adopts policies after careful review of published peer-reviewed scientific literature, national guidelines and local standards of practice. Since medical technology is constantly changing, the Company reserves the right to review and update policies as appropriate. Member contracts differ in their benefits. Always consult the member benefit booklet or contact a member service representative to determine coverage for a specific medical service or supply. CPT codes, descriptions and materials are copyrighted by the American Medical Association (AMA).
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