germ cell tumours (female germ cell tumours section)

Last reviewed 01/2018

Germ cell tumours in the female originate embryonically in the yolk sac and are present in the ovaries at birth. They are the second most common cause of ovarian neoplasia, accounting for 15 - 20% of cases. Overall, 95% are benign with a peak incidence in the third decade of life. However, in children less than 10 years of age, 85% may be malignant.

There are described in three main categories:

  • dysgerminoma - histologically similar to seminomas of the testes
  • teratoma
  • less common germ cell tumours e.g. nongestational choriocarcinoma, yolk sac tumour, and embryonal carcinoma

Presentation is usually non-specific and similar to that of ovarian epithelial tumours.

By comparison to testicular germ cell tumours, ovarian ones are twice as common and generally benign. Testicular germ cell tumours are generally malignant.