Germ Cell Tumors of the Brain in Children

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What is a germ cell tumor of the brain?

Germ cell tumors of the brain develop when the sex cells that should normally form the ovaries or testes fail to migrate down and instead become “trapped” in the brain.  This is why most germ cell tumors are found in the testes or ovaries. When found in the brain, they’re known as “intracranial germ cell tumors”.

 Here are some basics about germ cell tumors of the brain:

  • Germ cell tumors in the brain are most commonly found in the areas around the pituitary and pineal glands.
  • Germ cell tumors in the brain are very rare, accounting for approximately 4 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.
  • Around half of these tumors occur in young people between ages 10 and 20.
  • Most germ cell tumors are classified as malignant (cancerous).
  • Treatment for germ cell tumors can include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

As you read further, you will find general information about germ cell tumors in the brain. If you would like to view summary information about brain tumors first, see the overview on brain tumors.

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center approaches germ cell tumors of the brain

We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with a germ cell tumor of the brain. Is it dangerous? Will it affect my child long-term? What do we do next? We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in the following pages, and our experts can explain your child’s condition fully.

We hold a weekly brain tumor clinic for newly diagnosed patients currently receiving treatment. Each time you come for an appointment, you meet with specialists on your child’s team, from your pediatric neuro-oncologist, neurologist and neurosurgeon, to your pediatric endocrinologist, and psycho-oncologis.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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