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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Peony Hirwani

Cormac Roth death: Everything you need to know about germ cell cancer

PA Archive

Tim Roth’s 25-year-old son Cormac Roth died on 16 October after a “courageous battle with cancer”, his family disclosed on Monday (31 October).

The musician was suffering from choriocarcinoma, a germ cell cancer, which he was diagnosed with in November last year.

Germ cell tumours are growths of cells that form from reproductive cells.

This type of infection is a benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) mass that forms from germ cells.

Most of these tumours appear in ovaries or testicles, but they can occur in other body parts, too, including the chest, tailbone, and brain.

Usually, germ cell tumours can affect anyone, but they’re most common in children, teens, and young adults.

Below is everything you need to know about germ cell tumours.

What are the types of germ cell tumours?

As mentioned above, germ cell tumours may be cancerous or non-cancerous. Both types of tumours can grow larger, but only cancerous germ cell tumours can spread to other parts of a person’s body.

There are a total of seven types of germ cell tumours.

The most common type of ovarian germ cell tumour is called Teratomas. It contains tissue like teeth, hair, muscle and bone. It may be mature or immature. It’s usually benign, however, immature teratomas are typically cancerous, and they grow fast.

The second kind of germ cell tumour is called the yolk sac tumour. It occurs most often in the ovary or testicle but may also show up in other areas of the body, such as the chest, abdomen, or brain. This tumour contains cells similar to those in a developing embryo. These tumours are cancerous, and they spread fast to lymph nodes and other organs.

Additionally, yolk sac tumours are the most common malignant germ cell tumour diagnosed in children.

As per the Cleveland Clinic, the third type of germ cell tumour is Germinoma. It is a cancerous tumour that may appear in a person’s ovaries or testicles. Still, they’re most common in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

The fourth kind of this tumour is called embryonal cell carcinoma. It is a rare and cancerous germ cell tumour that often appears alongside other tumour types.

Other types of germ cell tumours are called polyembryomas, choriocarcinomas and mixed germ cell tumours.

Choriocarcinoma is a rare and cancerous germ cell tumour that can form in ovaries or testicles but often occurs in the uterus. It can spread to both the fetus and the parent at the time of pregnancy.

How common are germ cell tumours?

According to the University of Rochester’s Medical Centre, germ cell tumours are rare.

These tumours account for about two to four per cent of all cancers in children and adolescents younger than age 20.

What are the symptoms of germ cell tumour?

The most common signs of germ cell tumours are:

  • A mass on ovaries or testicles.
  • Belly pain and swelling (caused by tumour).
  • Bathroom troubles (a hard time pooping or holding in your pee, if the tumour is near your pelvis).
  • Breast growth, pubic hair, or vaginal bleeding at an earlier age than normal.
  • Belly or chest pain.
  • A lump or a mass in the belly or testicles
  • Testicles that aren’t the right shape or size
  • Weakness in legs (if the tumour is in the lower back)
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath (if the tumour is near the lungs)

What is the treatment process for germ cell tumours?

Depending on where the tumour is, the size, and whether it has spread, the main treatments are surgery and chemotherapy.

According to Cancer Research UK, “germ cell tumours generally respond very well to chemotherapy. Most people are cured. Even cancers that have spread are still very treatable with chemotherapy”.

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