Doctor's Notes on Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors
Childhood extracranial germ cell tumors form from germ cells in parts of the body other than the brain. A germ cell forms as a fetus develops and later becomes sperm in the testicles or eggs in the ovaries. Sometimes while the fetus is forming, germ cells travel to parts of the body where they should not be and grow into a germ cell tumor that may form before or after birth. The three types of extracranial germ cell tumors are:
- mature teratomas,
- immature teratomas, and
- malignant germ cell tumors.
Symptoms of childhood extracranial germ cell tumors depend on the type of tumor and where it is in the body. Symptoms may include:
- a painless lump in the testicle,
- pain in the abdomen,
- no menstrual periods in females, and
- unusual vaginal bleeding in females.
What Is the Treatment for Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors?
Treatment for childhood extracranial germ cell tumors depends on the location of the tumor and the exact tumor type as determined by microscopic examination of the biopsy tissue. The extent of spread of the tumor and the age of the patient are also factors that help determine the treatment needed. Treatments may include:
- Surgery to remove the tumor
- Surgery and observation
- Surgery followed by chemotherapy
- Chemotherapy followed by surgery
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.