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The term "germ cell" refers to giving of life, as in "germinate" (not from "germs" as in bacteria). Germ cells get their name because they normally produce the specialized cells that create life: sperm and egg cells - the sex cells needed for reproduction.
Germ cell cancer in children are tumors that occur in youngsters, teens and adults. Germ cell tumors are rare, about 900 children and adolescents are diagnosed in the United States each year. They make up only 4% of all cancers in children and adolescents.
Germ cells develop early in life. At about four weeks, the earliest germ cells in the growing fetus migrate from their point of origin to the gonadal area (the area of the sex organs). If germ cells do not reach their intended destination, tumors occur wherever these cells end up. Germ cell tumors can be malignant (life-threatening) or benign (not life-threatening).
Malignant germ cell tumors include several types of cancer, such as immature teratoma, yolk sac tumor and choriocarcinoma. They can destroy the testes or ovaries and can spread to other parts of the body.
About Germ Cell TumorsIn Treatment for Germ Cell TumorsAfter Treatment for Germ Cell Tumors