Germinoma of the Central Nervous system

Also known as: germ cell tumors (GCT’s) of the brain, germ cell brain tumors

What is a germinoma in the brain?

A germinoma is a rare form of cancer that is most often found in the brain of children between the ages of 10 and 19 years. The cancer originates in germs cells, which are actually sex cells that fail to leave the brain when the fetus is still in utero. There are two main types (Germinomas and Non-germinomatous germ cell tumors- which have some sub-types) which respond differently to treatment.

What causes germinoma?

No one really knows the cause of why germ cells, which during normal development of the baby travel to the ovum (egg) in the female and to the testis (sperm) in boys don't go to the right place.

What are the symptoms of germinoma?

Symptoms depend on where the tumor develops in the brain and its size. Some symptoms result from hydrocephalus (swelling of the brain).
Fatigue, vomiting, headache, behavioral changes, difficulty with movements or vision changes may also occur. Other symptoms might include diabetes insipidus (thirst and passing a lot of urine), poor growth and early or late puberty.

What are germinoma care options?

Depending on the site, size and effects of the tumor, management may include  a brain biopsy, surgery to remove the tumor, and/or a shunt to drain the brain fluid which can cause brain swelling, radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: December 16, 2020 02:00 PM

Neuro-Oncology Program

The Neuro-Oncology Program incorporates a multidisciplinary team who contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of all types of benign or malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord.

Learn more

Learn more about


Hydrocephalus is primarily an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. There are many cause of hydrocephalus, which can be congenital or acquired in nature. In some children, the cause remains unknown. Learn more

Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder characterized by extreme thirst and the passing of large amounts of dilute urine. Learn more

Shunt Placement

A shunt is a valve that is connected to a catheter to divert excess cerebral spinal fluid to another part of the body for absorption. Our neurosurgeons use various types of shunt valves, both fixed pressure and programmable valves to treat hydrocephalus in babies and children. These options are determined based on each patient's individual needs. Learn more