Testicular cancer is a relatively rare disease — it occurs in fewer than 10,000 men in the United States each year. That means an individual urologist may diagnose just one case in any given year.
To ensure top-notch care for these patients, a team of Kaiser Permanente urologists and medical oncologists created the Testicular Cancer Review Panel in 2016. The panel brings together a group of specialists twice a month to review new cases throughout Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
"The Testicular Cancer Review Panel exemplifies what Kaiser Permanente does best — bringing together specialists who are leaders in their fields to determine the ideal care for each patient," said Wayland Hsiao, MD, chair of the chiefs of urology for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
"The panel’s work could mean that a patient avoids chemo he doesn't need — or gets treatment that prevents a recurrence of his cancer," Dr. Hsiao added.
Support from research and technology partners was essential in the creation of the Testicular Cancer Review Panel.
Lisa Herrinton, PhD, a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, began by creating a registry of all new and ongoing testicular cancer cases in Northern California. Panel members access the registry from within Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health record system, helping to ensure that follow-up imaging and laboratory tests happen as needed based on the patient’s specific type and stage of cancer.
"We are identifying patients as quickly as we can to make sure they are all on the right treatment path," said medical oncologist Andrea Harzstark, MD, who launched the effort with urologist Joseph Presti, MD.
In its first year, the panel reviewed 131 cases. That number grew to over 200 in 2020, and in 2021 they reviewed more than 300 cases.
For patients with testicular cancer and their families, the Testicular Cancer Review Panel affords much-needed peace of mind.
"The mother of one patient told me, 'I cannot tell you how comforted I am to hear that a panel of experts has reviewed my son’s case,'" Dr. Presti said.
Most cancers occur more commonly in older people, but testicular cancer is one of the few exceptions. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men 15 to 44, and it can even occur in children.