Germ Cell Tumors in Children

Tumors of the Ovaries and Testes

Germ cell tumor treatment requires a team of specialists with experience treating children of all ages. Duke Children's pediatric cancer care team provides expert care and a full range of support services that are tailored to your child’s needs. Whether it’s explaining a treatment to your child or helping to manage side effects and stress related to treatment, our care goes beyond just treatment of germ cell tumors. We’re here to support your child and your family every step of the way.

What Is a Germ Cell Tumor?

Germ cell tumors occur in children of all ages. They develop from the reproductive cells that produce eggs in female ovaries and sperm in male testicles (gonadal tumors). In rare cases, the cells travel and form tumors in other parts of the body (extragonadal germ cell tumors), such as the abdomen, chest, neck, and head. 

Noncancerous germ cell tumors aren't life threatening but may need to be surgically removed to prevent them from growing and affecting the reproductive system, urinary tract, or other areas.

Personalized Care for Your Child's Germ Cell Tumor

When your child needs treatment for germ cell cancer, you want an experienced team that offers expert care in a kid-friendly environment.

  • We use a full range of tests to identify the type of germ cell tumor and if it’s related to a genetic change. This allows us to develop a treatment plan that is specific to your child's condition and create a follow-up plan for long-term cancer screening based on your child’s genetic makeup. Blood tests, biopsies, and imaging exams such as ultrasound, MRI, and CT help us design a treatment plan that offers your child the best possible results.
  • Our pediatric cancer care experts are also researchers seeking better treatments for children with germ cell tumors. Our doctors collaborate with pediatric cancer experts through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child gets the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments.
  • Your child’s team includes pediatric oncologists, surgeons, and urologists, and nurses who are specially trained to care for children with cancer. The team works collaboratively with social workers, psychologists, and other care professionals to assist your child and your family throughout your child’s treatment. In addition, your team may include fertility specialists to address any reproductive issues that can occur as a result of a germ cell tumor or its treatment. If your child’s germ cell cancer is caused by a genetic abnormality, we bring in genetic counselors to discuss future screening and preventive steps.
  • Our highly skilled pediatric surgeons use minimally invasive surgery whenever possible, which requires smaller incisions and lets your child recover faster. Duke Children’s is one of only five centers in the country designated a top-level performer by the American College of Surgeons. The Level 1 designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care for our young patients. We offer a wide range of services to help -- emotional support for the entire family, help with coordinating your child’s care, and much more. We're here to support you and offer guidance whenever you need us.


Most germ cell tumors are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, but some ovarian and testicular tumors can be cured with surgery alone. Your care team will discuss what's right for your child.

Family-Friendly Support Services

We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and support your family throughout treatment.

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