Germ cells form as a baby grows in the womb. The cells usually form the eggs (ova) in females and the sperm in males. Germ cell tumors are made up of these underdeveloped cells. The tumors may be cancer (malignant) or not cancer (benign). Germ cell tumors are rare.
Germ cell tumors may grow in these parts of the body:
The tumors come in different types such as:
Symptoms can vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of germ cell tumors can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask questions about your child's medical history and current symptoms. He or she will examine your child, paying close attention to areas with lumps, pain, or other symptoms. Your child may need to see a cancer specialist (pediatric oncologist). Your child may have tests such as:
Part of diagnosing cancer is called staging. Staging is the process of seeing if the cancer has spread, and where it has spread. Staging also helps to decide the treatment. There are different ways of staging cancer. Germ cell tumors range from stage 1 to stage 4. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the stage of your child's cancer and what it means.
Your child may be treated by several types of healthcare providers. This depends on factors such as the type and location of the germ cell tumor. The cancer may be treated with any of the below:
With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep in mind:
A child may have complications from the tumor or from treatment. They may include:
A child with rhabdomyosarcoma needs ongoing care. Your child will be seen by oncologists and other healthcare providers to treat any late effects of treatment and to watch for signs or symptoms of the tumor returning. Your child will be checked with imaging tests and other tests. And your child may see other healthcare providers for problems from the tumor or from treatment.
You can help your child manage his or her treatment in many ways. For example:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has: