A germ cell tumor (GCT) is a neoplasm which arises from germ cells. GCT can be cancerous or noncancerous (benign) tumors that are mainly composed of germ cells. They are rare and account for approximately 2 to 4 % of childhood and adolescent cancer, which are diagnosed in people around 20 or younger. For malignant GCT, they can metastasize to elsewhere of the body such as the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, central nervous system and sometimes the bone, bone marrow, and other organs.
The cause of GCT is still unknown. However, several inherited defects such as the central nervous system and genitourinary tract malformations, major malformations of the lower spine can all be the possible factors to increase the risk of developing GCT.
The most common symptoms of GCT include swelling, mass that can be touched or seen, increased levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), high level beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (ß-HCG), constipation, incontinence, leg weakness, abdominal pain or shortness of breath. Based on the location and size of the disease, the symptoms may vary.
People classify germ cell tumor into two groups:
Ovarian germ cell tumor (OGCT) is an unusual type of ovarian cancer in which malignant (cancer) cells develop from the germ (egg) cells of the ovary. Ovarian germ cell tumors are more often in women who are 10 to 29 years old and generally affect just one ovary. Ovarian germ cell tumors are divided into the clinicopathological subtypes such as dysgerminoma (35-50% of OGCT), endodermal sinus tumor (20%), embryonal carcinoma (rare), polyembryoma (rare), choriocarcinoma (rare), teratoma and mixed GCT.
Sign and symptom
There are no obvious symptoms in the early stage. Nonetheless, tumors may be detected by regular gynecologic exams (checkups). Signs of ovarian germ cell tumor are swelling of the abdomen without weight gain in other parts of the body or bleeding from the vagina after menopause.
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