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Malignant teratoma

 

Definition

Malignant teratoma is a type of cancer made of cysts that contain one or more of the three main types of cells found in a developing baby (embryo). These cells are callled ectoderms, mesoderms, and endoderms.

Alternative Names

Dermoid cyst - malignant; Nonseminomatous germ cell tumor - teratoma; Immature teratoma

Causes

Malignant teratoma occurs most often in young men in their 20s - 30s. It is often located in the chest area. Most malignant teratomas can spread throughout the body, and have spread by the time of diagnosis.

A number of other cancers are often associated with these tumors, including:

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Malignant histiocytosis
  • Myelodysplasia (MDS)
  • Small cell undifferentiated carcinoma
Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Limited ability to tolerate exercise
  • Shortness of breath
Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam, which may reveal signs of congestive heart failure and increased pressure in the chest area.

The following tests help diagnose the tumor:

Support Groups

There are many support groups available for people with cancer. Contact the American Cancer Society -- www.cancer.org

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook depends on the tumor size and location and the age of the patient.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of malignant teratoma.

Complications

The cancer can spread throughout the body and there may be complications of surgery or related to chemotherapy.

Treatments

Chemotherapy is used to treat the tumor. A combination of medicines (usually cisplatin, etoposide, and bleomycin) is commonly used.

After chemotherapy is complete, CT scans are taken again to see if any mass remains. Surgery may be recommended if there is a possibility that the cancer will grow back in that area.

Prevention


Images
Teratoma - MRI scan Malignant teratoma
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Review Date: 9/30/2008
Reviewed By: James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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