Germ Cell Tumor

Also known as: teratomas, germinomas, yolk sac tumors, embryonal carcinoma, choriocarcinoma

What are germ cell tumors?

The germ cells are the cells in the body that ultimately help women form eggs and men form sperm. When a tumor develops from these cells, it’s known as a germ cell tumor. They can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

What causes germ cell tumors?

Like most cancers, the root cause of germ cell tumors is due to changes in a cell’s DNA. What specifically causes this change to occur isn’t clear. The tumors are more common along with some genetic conditions.

What are the symptoms of germ cell tumors?

Many germ cell tumors do not cause symptoms until they have grown for a while. If symptoms do occur, they can vary widely based on the area of the body impacted by the tumor. Potential symptoms include constipation, leg weakness, unusual shape or size in the testicles, headache, vomiting, fatigue and many more.

How can germ cell tumors affect children?

Germ cell tumors are rare, but they can occur in children just as they do in adults. They account for around 2 to 4 percent of cancer in children and adolescents younger than age 20.

What are germ cell tumor treatments?

Surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue and chemotherapy to rid the body of any remaining cancer are the two primary treatment methods for germ cell tumors.

Reviewed by: Maggie Fader, MD

This page was last updated on: November 02, 2023 03:46 PM