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
  • 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: March 25, 2022 11:37 AM

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