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Childhood Cancers: Germ Cell Cancer

Extracranial (everywhere but in the brain) germ cell (reproductive cells that develop into testicles in males and ovaries in females) tumours can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Most germ cell tumours are benign and are very rare in children younger than age 15. Germ cell tumours of early childhood have biological characteristics which are different than those that occur in adolescents and young adults. The location of the tumour and the age of the child make a difference on how the tumour is treated.

The major types of germ cell tumours by location and age are:

Testicular germ cell tumours of early childhood . This type of germ cell tumour forms within the testes of young boys.

Testicular germ cell tumours of adolescence and young adulthood . This type of germ cell tumour forms within the testes of older boys. Testicular germ cell tumours are classified as either seminoma or nonseminoma . This classification is important for planning treatment because seminomas are more sensitive to radiation therapy.

Extragonadal, extracranial germ cell tumours of early childhood. This includes any type of germ cell tumour that is not located in the reproductive organs (testicles or ovaries) or in the brain. These germ cell tumours are usually located in the sacrum (a triangular-shaped section of fused bone located between the hip bones at the base of the spine) and the coccyx (the fused bones located on the end of the sacrum; also called the tailbone).

Extragonadal, extracranial germ cell tumours of adolescence and young adulthood . This type of germ cell tumour is usually located within the chest.

Ovarian germ cell tumours. Ovarian germ cell tumour, a rare type of cancer that affects teenage girls and young women, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in egg-making cells in an ovary.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Once a germ cell tumour is diagnosed, tests are carried out in order to establish whether or not the germ cell tumour is benign or malignant. If the tumour is malignant, more tests will be done to find out if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body ( staging ). Knowing the stage of the disease will assist the doctor in effectively planning further treatment.
Treatment for extracranial germ cell tumour depends upon the location of the tumour, the stage of the tumour, and the type of tumour. The types of treatment used for extracranial germ cell tumour are surgery (cutting the tumour out of the body) and/or chemotherapy (using drugs to kill tumour cells).

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Pediatric Cancers, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center: http://cancer.med.upenn.edu/


Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt
    (websites)


Germ cell cancer
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Germ Cells:
(www.ultranet.com)
Kimball's Biology Pages

Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal
Germinoma
Neoplasm Staging

    Recent articles
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Germ Cells
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Neoplasm Staging
 

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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/child_cancer/cancer_germcell.html Last modified: Oct 20 2004