Login below, or create an account for free.
A rare cancer that forms in germ cells in the testicle or ovary, or in germ cells that have traveled to areas of the body other than the brain (such as the chest, abdomen, or tailbone). Germ cells are reproductive cells that develop into sperm in males and eggs in females.
As a fetus develops, certain cells form sperm in the testicles or eggs in the ovaries. Sometimes these cells travel to other parts of the body and grow into germ cell tumours. This summary is about germ cell tumours that form in parts of the body that are extracranial (outside the brain). Extracranial germ cell tumours are most common in teenagers 15 to 19 years old.
Extracranial germ cell tumours may be benign (noncancer) or malignant (cancer).
Extracranial germ cell tumours are grouped into mature teratomas, immature teratomas, or malignant germ cell tumours:
Mature teratomas are the most common type of extracranial germ cell tumour. The cells of mature teratomas look very much like normal cells. Mature teratomas are benign and not likely to become cancer.
Immature teratomas have cells that look very different from normal cells. Immature teratomas are not cancer. They often contain several different types of tissue such as hair, muscle, and bone.
Malignant germ cell tumours are cancer. There are three types of malignant germ cell tumours:
Malignant extracranial germ cell tumours are grouped into gonadal and extragonadal.
Gonadal germ cell tumours form in the testicles or ovaries.
Testicular Germ Cell tumours
Testicular germ cell tumours usually occur before the age of 4 years or in teenagers and young adults.
Testicular germ cell tumours in teenagers and young adults are different from those that form in early childhood. They are more like testicular cancer in adults. Testicular germ cell tumours are divided into two main types, seminoma and nonseminoma. (See the summary on Testicular Cancer in the A-Z List of Cancers for more information.)
Boys older than 14 years with testicular germ cell tumours are treated in pediatric cancer centers, but the treatment is similar to that used in adults. (See the summary on Testicular Cancer in the A-Z List of Cancers for more information here.)
Ovarian Germ Cell tumours
Ovarian germ cell tumours form in egg-making cells in an ovary. These tumours are more common in teenage girls and young women. Most ovarian germ cell tumours are benign teratomas. (See the summary on Ovarian Germ Cell tumours in the A-Z List of Cancers for more information here.)
Extragonadal germ cell tumours form in areas other than the testicles or ovaries.
Most germ cell tumours that are not in the testicles, ovaries, or brain, form along the midline of the body. This includes the following:
In younger children, extragonadal extracranial germ cell tumours usually occur at birth or in early childhood. Most of these tumours are teratomas in the sacrum or coccyx.
In older children, teenagers, and young adults, extragonadal extracranial germ cell tumours are often in the mediastinum.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk. Possible risk factors for extracranial germ cell tumours include the following:
Different tumours may cause the following signs and symptoms. Other conditions may cause these same symptoms. Check with a doctor if your child has any of the following problems:
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Most malignant germ cell tumours release tumour markers. The following tumour markers are used to detect extracranial germ cell tumours:
For testicular germ cell tumours, blood levels of the tumour markers help show if the tumour is a seminoma or nonseminoma.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
The prognosis for childhood extracranial germ cell tumours, especially ovarian germ cell tumours, is good.
For more information on Extracranial Germ Cell tumour (Childhood) click here
This link is to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer website in the United States. There may be references to drugs and clinical trials that are not available here in Australia.
Page last updated: 07/05/2020