Germ cell ovarian cancer is a rare type of ovarian cancer. Most germ cell tumors are benign. But germ cells in the ovaries can form malignant tumors, which can spread to other parts of the body without treatment.
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth.
In this article, we look at the types of germ cell tumors, staging, diagnosis, treatment, and outlook.
Germ cell tumors develop from the germ cells, which are the cells that form eggs.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), germ cell ovarian cancer is rare, accounting for of ovarian cancer cases. They are most common in adolescents and young females between 15–19 years of age.
In most cases, treatment is effective in curing germ cell ovarian cancer, especially when people receive an early diagnosis and treatment.
Different types of malignant germ cell ovarian tumors include:
Dysgerminoma is the
Other symptoms include:
Germ cell ovarian cancer may spread through the body via the blood, tissues, and lymphatic system.
Healthcare professionals use the
Each stage is also split into sub-categories that detail more specifically where the cancer occurs.
Researchers are not sure what causes germ cell ovarian cancer. But Turner’s syndrome can increase a person’s risk for developing it.
Turner’s syndrome is a genetic condition that only affects females. A person with Turner’s syndrome has one X sex chromosome instead of two.
Risk factors of developing ovarian cancer can include :
To diagnose a germ cell tumor, a doctor will assess any symptoms and carry out a physical examination.
They may carry out a pelvic exam to check the pelvis, vagina, and abdominal area. They may also carry out certain tests, such as:
In most cases , surgery will remove the ovary and fallopian tube where the germ cell tumor is present. This is called a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This is the typical treatment if the tumor has not spread.
A person may only require surgery for stage 1A dysgerminoma or stage 1A immature teratoma.
People will need to attend regular checkups involving blood tests and scans to make sure that the cancer has not returned.
In some cases, people may need surgery to remove both ovaries and fallopian tubes, which is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The surgeon may also remove the uterus.
If the tumor has spread outside of the ovaries, people may need to undergo chemotherapy.
People may receive chemotherapy to shrink and kill cancer cells.
People may receive chemotherapy:
To treat germ cell ovarian cancer, people may have a type of chemotherapy called PEB, which consists of the following drugs:
After treatment for germ cell ovarian cancer, people may still require regular checkups for several years to check that the cancer has not returned.
The frequency of tests may reduce over time if doctors do not find anything abnormal.
Some people may experience side effects of treatment months to years afterward . Doctors refer to these as long-term or late effects.
Treatment with bleomycin can affect the lungs if people have any treatments that involve high doses of oxygen.
Some treatments may affect fertility, although this uncommon.
If people require surgery to remove both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, and the uterus, they will not be able to conceive. The removal of both ovaries will cause a person to enter surgical menopause. This means that they will go through menopause immediately.
Chemotherapy may help to reduce the amount of surgery people require, which may help to maintain fertility.
Chemotherapy can also reduce the number of healthy eggs in the ovaries.
People can discuss fertility when making a decision with their healthcare team about treatment options. If people have had surgery to remove an affected ovary and fallopian tube, it is still likely they will be able to have children.
There is no clear strategy for preventing germ cell ovarian cancer.
A person can take combined hormonal birth control pills (ones with estrogen and progestin) to help reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 20% for every 5 years of taking the pill.
Removing the fallopian tubes with a procedure called salpingectomy may help to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Dysgerminomas are usually slow to grow or spread. If dysgerminomas are only present in the ovary, surgical removal of the ovary can cure
If the tumor has spread farther than the ovary, or is recurrent, cancer treatments including surgery, radiation therapy , and chemotherapy can effectively control or cure the cancer in around 90% of cases.
According to the ACS, germ cell ovarian cancer has a good outlook overall, with
Outlook for germ cell ovarian cancer can depend on: