The group of tumours known as malignant germ cell tumours occur in a number of different places ...
Germ cell tumours (GCT) are a diverse group of tumours that usually develop within the ovaries or testes. These are called gonadal germ cell tumours.
However germ cell tumours can also occur in other parts of the body. As a baby develops in the womb, the germ cells usually move to the ovaries or testes. Sometimes they fail to migrate to their proper location and settle in other parts of the body, where they can develop into tumours. These are called extragonadal germ cell tumours. The most common places for these tumours to occur are at the bottom of the spine (sacrococcygeal), the brain, chest and abdomen.
There are several distinct sub-types of germ cell tumour, depending on the characteristics of the cells involved. These include yolk-sac tumours, germinomas, embryonal carcinomas and teratomas. They may be benign or malignant.
The cause of germ cell tumours is not known but research is ongoing.
Germ cell tumours are rare, accounting for around 3% of childhood cancer registrations. This represents about 45 children a year in the UK.
The pattern by age and sex varies greatly according to the type of tumour. In boys, incidence peaks very early at around two years of age and then declines before rising again in adolescence. In girls, incidence is low until age 6 or 7 years and then rises with age up to 15 years.
The overall survival rate for children diagnosed with germ cell tumours is 93%.
Gonadal germ cell tumours now have a survival rate of 99%.Back to top