A guide to childhood germ cell tumorsDuring the development of the fetus, there are various cells, which form eggs in ovaries or sperm in testicles. These cells sometimes travel to other body parts where they grow to become germ cell tumors. Extracranial germ cell tumors usually form outside the brain and are very common among teenagers aged between 15 and 19 years. These tumors can either be malignant or benign

Extracranial germ cell tumors- different types

These germ cell tumors are usually of three types and their grouping is well detailed here below:

Mature teratomas- essentially, the mature teratomas comprise of the most common kind of the extracranial germ cell tumors. These cells look very similar to the normal cells and mature teratomas are usually benign and it is less likely that they will be cancerous.

Immature teratomas- these ones usually have cells which have a different look compared to the normal cells. The good thing about immature teratomas is that they are not cancer and usually contain different tissues like muscle, bone and hair.

Malignant germ cell tumors- these tumors are actually cancerous and scientists have reported three malignant germ cell tumors that you should know about:

·         Yolk sac tumors- these are tumors, which make a hormone known as AFP alpha- fetoprotein

·         Germinomas- these are tumors, which make a hormone known as beta human chorionic gonadotrophin

·         Choriocarcinomas- these are tumors, which make a certain hormone known as beta- human chorionic gonadotrophin.

About testicular germ cell tumors

The testicular germ cell tumors normally occur in children below 4 years as well as in young adults and teenagers. The tumors in teenagers are usually different from those in young adults and in adults; they are ideally more like the testicular cancer. There are two main types of testicular germ cell tumors, i.e. seminoma & non-seminoma. As far as the seminoma ones are concerned, these tumors usually make a hormone known as beta human chorionic gonadotropin. The nonseminoma tumors are characterized by their large size and may cause symptoms.

Ovarian germ cell tumors

These tumors usually form in the cells that make the egg in an ovary. The tumors are essentially more common in young women and teenage girls. Most of these tumors are actually benign teratomas.

Treating germ cell tumors

Different treatment options are available for containing germ cell tumors. Besides the standard treatments that are used for treating the condition currently, there are others being tested in the clinical trials. A team of doctors will usually plan the treatment for patients with germ cell tumors and a pediatric oncologist usually oversees the treatment. The main standard treatments used for treating germ cell tumors are surgery and chemotherapy. A combination of these treatments may be recommended depending on the condition of the patient.