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Childhood Germ Cell Tumors

Germ cell tumors are cancerous or non-cancerous tumors comprised mostly of the cells that develop in the embryo. These are the cells that will make up the reproductive system in males and females. After development they follow a midline path through the body and descend into the pelvis of the female as ovarian cells or into the scrotum of the male as testicular cells. Germ cell tumors make up about 3% of all childhood cancers. Ninety percent of germ cell tumors are gonadal which are found in the ovaries or testicles and are more common in children and adolescents.

Most of the remaining germ cell tumors such as extragonadal tumors are more common in infants, and occur when the germ cells fail to migrate to their correct destination. These germ cell tumors tend to occur in the lower back, chest and head.

If your child has been diagnosed with a germ cell tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

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Childhood Germ Cell Tumors Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

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Marathon

"Some people say it's bad that I'm having cancer twice, but I'm lucky. I survived before, and I'll survive again."

Germ Cell Tumor Survivor Dave Massey

Childhood Germ Cell Tumor Types

Germinomas contain only immature germ cells:

Dysgerminomas, malignant germ cell tumors that are found in the ovaries, are the most common malignant ovarian germ cell tumors occurring in children and adolescents.

Seminomas are germ cell tumors that are found in the testes.

Embryonic tumors contain some cells that have already begun to develop into other tissues:

Teratomas can be either malignant or benign. Teratomas of the tail bone are the most common germ cell tumor found in children, and are about four times more common in girls than in boys.

Endodermal sinus tumors (yolk sac tumor) occur most commonly in ovaries and testicles, where they are aggressive and can spread quickly. They are the most common malignant ovarian and testicular tumors in childhood.

Choriocarcinoma is very rare, often malignant and originates in the cells of the placental chorion layer, the structure through which the fetus takes in oxygen and nourishment during pregnancy.

Embryonal carcinoma cells are malignant and most commonly found in the testicles, but can spread to other parts of the body.

Gonadoblastoma is a rare, almost always benign tumor associated with abnormal development of the reproductive organs.

Polyembryoma is a very rare, aggressive type of germ cell tumor that is usually found in the ovaries.

If your child has been diagnosed with a germ cell tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center