• Germinoma

    A germinoma is a type of germ cell tumor that is most commonly found in the brain. Usually, germ cells migrate to the gonads during fetal development and become an egg in the female ovaries or sperm in the male testes. However, if these germ cells don't migrate to the correct location, they can become trapped in the brain and multiply in areas where they shouldn’t.

    There are two main types of germ cell tumors of the brain:

    • Germinomas (pure germ cell tumors), which are tumors that respond well to treatment. Germinomas usually can be cured using chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The specific treatment will depend on the germinoma's location, size, and other characteristics.
    • Non-germinomatous germ cell tumors, which secrete chemicals into the spinal fluid and bloodstream and require more intensive treatment than pure germ cell tumors.

    Learn more about germ cell tumors:

    Germinoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s

    Although germinomas are very rare, at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we have helped many infants, children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with germinoma. Our pediatric Brain Tumor Center is a world-renowned destination for children with malignant and non-malignant brain and spinal cord tumors. Our patients receive care from neurologists, neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons and pediatric subspecialists with extensive expertise in all types of brain tumors, including germinomas.

    What type of germinoma treatment should I expect for my child?

    Our pediatric brain tumor specialists provide unique expertise in treating all forms of pediatric brain tumors, even rare tumors like germinomas. We are dedicated to anticipating any complications that your child may experience and developing the best therapeutic plans to manage them.

    There are different treatments that may be used to treat children with a germinoma tumor, including:

    • Surgery: While biopsies can be done to diagnose germinomas, resection (surgical removal) is generally not needed since most germinomas respond well to chemotherapy and radiation.
    • Radiation therapy: This treatment is important in controlling the local growth of the tumor and preventing the spread of the tumor. Radiation to the whole brain and spinal cord are used to treat certain germinomas that have spread throughout the brain or spine. Local tumors do not require whole brain or spinal radiation.
    • Chemotherapy: a drug that interferes with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Different types of chemotherapy drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors. In patients with germinoma, chemotherapy has been recently added to the treatment regimen in order to permit the use of a lower radiation dose. Chemotherapy can be given:
      • intravenously (IV), as direct injection into the bloodstream. IV is the most common form of chemotherapy used to treat germ cell tumors.
      • orally, as a pill to swallow
      • Intramuscularly, as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
      • intrathecally, as a direct injection into the spinal column through a lumbar puncture

    What is the long-term outlook for children with germinoma?

    Germinoma carry a relatively excellent prognosis. It's very unlikely that the tumor will spread outside the central nervous system. Overall, germinomas are cured in more than 90 percent of cases.

    However, many children will face physical, psychological, social and intellectual challenges related to their treatment, and should receive ongoing assessment and specialized care.

    At our brain tumor survivorship program – the Stop and Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic – children meet with their neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, pediatric neuro-oncologist and neurologists at the same follow-up visit. Our multidisciplinary approach and depth of expertise also give your child on-site access to endocrinologists, neuro-psychologists and alternative/complementary therapy specialists. School liaison and psychosocial personnel from the pediatric brain tumor team are also available. In addition, children needing rehabilitation may meet with speech, physical, and occupational therapists during and after treatments.