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Alternate Names: Germinoma, embryonal carcinoma, endodermal sinus tumor, teratoma
These tumors arise from various types of "germ cells" found in the brain. Different types of germ cells give rise to different types of tumors, including germinoma, embryonal carcinoma, endodermal sinus tumor and teratoma. These tumors arise primarily in two locations in the center of the brain, the suprasellar and pineal regions. Germ cell tumors can spread to other areas of the brain and spinal cord.
These tumors are very rare, accounting less than 4 percent of all newly diagnosed brain tumors in children. They are commonly diagnosed during adolescence, and boys are affected more often than girls.
Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. Patients with suprasellar germ cell tumors usually present with hormonal problems. Pineal region tumors cause increased pressure on the brain, with headache and vision problems.
Current efforts are focusing on the addition of chemotherapy for germinomas to reduce the volume and dose of irradiation and to increase the cure rate in patients with other types of germ cell tumors. Because these tumors are so rare, it is difficult to perform meaningful large-scale clinical trials except in the context of a national, multi-institutional study.
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