Cancer

Germ cell tumor (GCT)

Description

Germ cell tumor (GCT) is a rare kind of cancer that is mainly found in children’s germ cells. These are special cells that develop in the testicles (male) and ovaries (female) as this is where most germs are present. GCT can also be found in some other locations, including lower back, the chest, the abdomen, lymph nodes, liver, lung and in the brain as well. The tumor spread in testes of an infant boy and become enlarged, and solid which may result in severe pain. It can be both malignant and benign and the treatment depends on its severity.

The symptoms of Germ cell tumor may vary from one patient to another. However, in most cases, they can be same. These are:

  • A solid testes mass that can be associated with or without pain.
  • A solid ovarian mass causing abdominal pain that can be discovered through an ultrasound.
  • A mass on the lower back or near the anus.
  • A mass inside the chest, causing respiratory issues
  • Pubic hair development, enlarged breast, or vaginal bleeding at early age.

GCT can be diagnosed after having a physical examination of the patient. The tests include CT scan, blood tests, ultrasound, pulmonary function test and baseline hearing evaluation. After the diagnosis, doctors can plan surgical resection.

Treatment of Germ Cell Tumour

Treatment of germ cell tumor is very effective and usually only require surgery to be performed. If there is a chance of recurrence, chemotherapy will be given to cure it after the surgery.

Surgery: In surgical process, the germ cell tumor is usually removed along with some surrounding tissues called margin by the surgeon from its location. This ensures that the cancer cells are completely eliminated from the body, so that the recurrence won’t occur.

Chemotherapy: Even though, the surgery may be the only treatment one requires, if cancer cells do come back, then chemotherapy can be used to destroy those cells and stops the cancer to grow further. This is done with the help of appropriate dose of drugs that kills the tumor cells. Chemotherapy is quite effective in treating GCT and it can even cure a person where the tumor has spread in other parts of the body.

Complications

Any kind of cancer treatment does involve some side effects, which may occur soon or years later. GCT treatment also causes some complications, which is mainly from chemotherapy as it uses certain harmful drugs. These side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Infection
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss

These side effects normally go away with time, once the treatment is done.

Post operative care

The treatment of GCT can cause many side effects and it is important to relieve the child from them, which can be done by a palliative or supportive care. This means supporting the child with emotional, physical and social needs.

Providing nutritional diet, proper medications, relaxation techniques and other therapies also need to be done.