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Germ cells are the egg-producing cells found in the ovaries. While germ cells are one of the three main cell types that ovarian cancer develops in, ovarian germ cell tumors account for only about 2% of ovarian cancers. This type of ovarian cancer is most likely to affect women in their teens or 20s.

Types of ovarian germ cell tumors

The majority of ovarian tumors that develop in the germ cells are benign (noncancerous), but they can also be malignant (cancerous). Ovarian germ cell tumors have several subtypes, including:

  • Teratoma – Benign teratomas are referred to as “mature,” while malignant teratomas are called “immature.” Immature teratomas contain cells resembling embryonic cells of connective tissues, respiratory passages or the brain.
  • Dysgerminoma – The most common type of ovarian germ cell tumor, dysgerminomas are typically slow growing.
  • Endodermal sinus tumor – This type, also called a “yolk sac tumor,” is very rare and tends to grow rapidly.
  • Choriocarcinoma – Another very rare type of germ cell tumor, choriocarcinoma more commonly develops in the placenta than in an ovary.

Treatment of ovarian germ cell tumors

Treatment for ovarian germ cell tumors varies from patient to patient and depends on a number of factors, including the type of cancer. But generally speaking, tumors that have stayed in the ovary are often surgically removed, while cancers that have spread or are of higher grades might be treated primarily with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our gynecologic clinic features a multispecialty team comprising surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, reproductive endocrinologists and other experts, who all specialize in the treatment of ovarian cancer. We provide every patient with her own individualized treatment plan, tailored to her unique needs and preferences.

To consult with one of our oncologists specializing in the treatment of ovarian germ cell tumors, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. Referrals are never required to visit Moffitt Cancer Center.