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Endodermal Sinus Tumor

Also called: yolk sac tumor

What is endodermal sinus tumor?

Germ cells are the cells in the ovaries and testicles that develop into eggs (ova) in females and sperm in males. An endodermal sinus tumor, also called a yolk sac tumor, is a type of germ cell cancer. Endodermal sinus tumors occur most often in children.

This type of tumor appears most often in the ovaries or testes. It can also appear in the uterus, abdomen, 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.

How common is endodermal sinus tumor?

Ovarian endodermal sinus tumors represent about a quarter of germ cell tumors and 2% to 3% of ovarian cancers overall.

The testicular form of this type of tumor is also uncommon, representing only about 1% of childhood cancers.

What are the signs and symptoms of endodermal sinus tumor?

The early stages of endodermal sinus tumor often cause no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Changes in bowel function or habits
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats

Symptoms for location-specific endodermal sinus tumor may include:

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

How is endodermal sinus tumor treated?

The first-line treatment for endodermal sinus tumor is surgery to remove the tumor. This is followed by chemotherapy (“chemo”)—powerful medicines used to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells.

What are the survival rates for endodermal sinus tumor?

Before the late 1970s, when innovative chemo treatments began, endodermal sinus tumor was almost always fatal. Without treatment, it spreads quickly in children and will lead to death.

Combining surgery and cisplatin-based chemo has dramatically increased the overall survival rate of children with endodermal sinus tumor to more than 90 percent. Survival depends on three factors: the response of the tumor to treatment, early detection and the stage (severity) of the tumor.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s endodermal sinus tumor treatment?

  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
  • St. Jude has created more clinical trials for cancer than any other children’s hospital in the United States.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched— averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology, and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Your child will have access to a close-knit team of specialists that includes: surgeons; doctors and nurses who treat this cancer; doctors who specialize in radiation therapy, in hormones (endocrinologists), and in diagnosis (pathologists); experts in diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine; dietitians; speech therapists; rehabilitation specialists (physical therapists, occupational therapists); child life specialists; psychologists; Quality of Life team members; experts who help manage and minimize the long-term or late effects of treatment; researchers; scientists; and many others.
  • The medical team works closely with laboratory researchers to bring new treatments from the laboratory to the clinic.

The St. Jude website is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.