Testing & Diagnosis for Germinoma in Children

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Contact the Brain Tumor Center


At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we know that an early and accurate diagnosis of your child’s germinoma is the first step to efficient and effective treatment.

How is a germinoma diagnosed?

In addition to a medical history and physical examination, a doctor may use the following diagnostic tests, including:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI is an imaging procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.  They do not use any x-rays or radiation
  • Computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) These scans are common procedures used to diagnose germinomas. CT scans use a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce images of the brain and the body’s internal organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

After your child’s doctors suspect a tumor, they’ll begin the process of figuring out what kind of tumor it is. These may include:

  • Biopsy, the surgical removal of a sample of the tumor for diagnostic purposes. In order to determine the best treatment for your child, the doctors may need more information about the tumor. In this case, a biopsy may be done to get a tiny sample of tumor tissue to study under the microscope.
  • A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to obtain a small amount of your child’s cerebral spinal fluid, for examination under a microscope. This can help the doctors identify abnormal or cancerous cells in the spinal fluid and determine if the tumor has spread.  Spinal fluid can also be tested for tumor markers to help determine the type of germ cell tumor. 
  • Blood tests to check for “tumor markers”. Certain germ cell tumors release measurable substances into the blood such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (B-HCG). These tumor markers can be repeatedly tested in order to track the how well the tumor is responding to treatment.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. We will then meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944