Germ Cell Tumors | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of germ cell tumors?

Germ cell tumors can cause a variety of symptoms in children based primarily on the size and location of the tumor. Keep in mind symptoms of a germ cell tumor may resemble other more common conditions or medical problems. It is important to consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

Each child may experience germ cell tumor symptoms differently, but your child's symptoms may include:

  • a tumor, swelling or mass that can be seen or felt
  • constipation, incontinence and leg weakness if the tumor is located in the pelvis or abdomen
  • shortness of breath if the tumor is located in the chest
  • elevated levels of certain proteins secreted by the tumors into the blood  

What causes germ cell tumors?

Doctors do not understand the cause of most germ cell tumors. Scientists do know that they can be associated with a number of other inherited defects of the ovaries or testes. For example, patients with Klinefelter syndrome have an increased risk of developing extragonadal germ cell tumors.

However, it’s important to understand that germ cell tumors most often occur with no known cause. There’s nothing that you could have done or avoided doing that would have prevented the tumor from developing.