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Yolk Sac Tumor Treatment

Also called: Endodermal sinus tumor 

A yolk sac tumor is a type of germ cell cancer. Germ cells are the cells in the ovaries and testicles that develop into eggs (ova) in females and sperm in males.

Endodermal sinus tumors occur most often in children and appear most often in the ovaries or testes. It can also appear in the uterus, abdomen (belly), vagina, liver, or brain.

Although this type of tumor is rare in both sexes, it is the most common form of testicular cancer in males younger than 3 years old.

Yolk sac tumor symptoms

The early stages of yolk sac tumor often cause no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Changes in bowel function or habits
  • Feeling tired
  • Breathing problems
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats

Symptoms for location-specific yolk sac tumor may include:

  • Swelling of the buttocks
  • Swelling of the brain (hydrocephalus)
  • Mass or swelling of the testicles
  • Chest pain
  • Vision problems
  • Shoulder or arm pain
  • Mass or swelling in the abdomen (belly)

Types of yolk sac tumor

Ovarian yolk sac tumors represent about 25% of germ cell tumors and 2% to 3% of ovarian cancers overall. The testicular form of this type of tumor occurs in only about 1% of childhood cancers.

Yolk sac tumor treatment

Surgery to remove the tumor is the first-line treatment for yolk sac tumor. This is followed by chemotherapy (“chemo”). Chemotherapy uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells.

Yolk sac tumor prognosis

Without treatment, yolk sac tumors spread quickly and can lead to death. Treatments using surgery and cisplatin-based chemotherapy have dramatically increased the overall survival rate of children with yolk sac tumor to more than 90%.

The prognosis for children with yolk sac tumor depends on:

  • Early detection
  • The response of the tumor to treatment
  • The stage (severity) of the tumor

Yolk sac tumor clinical trials

Open clinical trials

AGCT1531: Carboplatin vs. Cisplatin for germ cell tumors

Study goal:

Watch patients with low-risk germ cell tumors, after tumor removal, treats their tumor as well as if they got the usual treatment of chemotherapy and/or more surgery if needed.


Standard Risk Group 1: less than 11 years old; Standard risk Group 2: ages 11–25

AGCT1532: BEP Chemotherapy for Germ Cell Tumors

Study goal:

The purpose of this study is to find out if accelerated chemotherapy will treat germ cell tumors as well as standard. We will also see if both treatments have similar side effects and are well tolerated.


Ages 11–45 years

Yolk sac tumor care at St. Jude

St. Jude provides the highest quality of care for patients with yolk sac tumor:

  • St. Jude offers a dedicated team of specialists to meet the needs of children with cancer, including:
  • We are consistently ranked among the best childhood cancer centers in the nation by US News & World Report. 
  • At St. Jude, we have created an environment where children can be children and families can be together. 
  • We lead more clinical trials for childhood cancer than any other hospital in the U.S.  
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center just for children. A Comprehensive Cancer Center meets rigorous standards for research that develops new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. 
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is about 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. 
  • Patients may be able to get expert, compassionate care and treatment closer to their homes through the St. Jude  Affiliate Program. 
A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334

The solid tumor coordinator is dedicated to helping you seek treatment or refer a patient.

Solid Tumor Coordinator


Learn more