Germ cell tumors are cell growths that develop from reproductive cells. The tumors may or may not be malignant. The testicles and ovaries are the most common sites for germ cell cancers. Although the cause is unknown but some germ cell cancers can develop in other parts of the body, including the abdomen, brain, and chest. These extragonadal germ cell tumors (germ cell cancers that originate outside of the testicles and ovaries) are extremely uncommon.
Causes of germ cell tumor
Changes in a germ cell’s DNA cause it to develop out of control, resulting in a tumor as the DNA is responsible for proper control of cell division. Doctors aren’t clear what exactly causes the mutation in the DNA.
However, one is more prone to develop a germ cell tumor if one has:
– A testicle that has not descended (one or both testicles have not fallen into the scrotum)
– Birth malformations of the central nervous system, genital organs, lower spine, and urinary tract
– Klinefelter syndrome and Turner syndrome are genetic diseases in which you have an extra or missing sex chromosome.
– Other members of the family that developed germ cell tumors
Types of germ cell tumor
There are a number of them, but these five are the most prevalent
– Teratomas: Also referred to as “dermoid cysts,” are not often cancerous. They are the most prevalent kind of germ cell tumor in the ovaries. Surgery is usually used to treat them.
– Germinomas: These are cancerous tumors. If they are in the ovaries, they are called “dysgerminomas,” and seminomas are in the testicles. non-seminomatous germ cell tumors are cancerous brain tumors.
– Yolk sac tumors: They are typically cancerous. This cancer generally originates in the testes and ovaries. It is usually a fast-growing malignancy that can make its way to the lymph nodes and also to other regions of the body
– Embryonic Carcinoma: Cancer cells in embryonic carcinoma typically mix with cancer cells from another form of germ cell tumor. e.g, embryonal carcinoma cells might combine with teratoma cells to become cancer.
– Choriocarcinoma: It is a very rare type of cancer that develops in the placenta. It might have an impact on the mother and also on the child.
Symptoms of germ cell cancer
Germ cell tumors are commonly characterized by the following symptoms:
– An unusual growth on ovaries or testicles
– Swelling and pain in the abdomen
– Problems with passing stools
– Premature puberty
– Pain in the abdomen or chest
– A lump or tumor in the abdomen or testicles
– Inadequately shaped or sized testicles
– Weakness in legs
– Shortness of breath or wheezing (if the tumor is near the lungs)
– Surgery: If it’s cancer, your doctor needs to remove all of the cancer cells which involves partial or complete removal of testes/ovaries if needed.
– Chemotherapy: This method uses drugs to kill cancer. It’s often taken into use when cancer has progressed into other areas of the body.
– Radiotherapy: This treatment method uses high energy from X-rays or other sources to kill cancer cells.