Our website uses cookies. We use cookies to remember settings and to help provide you with the best experience we can. We also use cookies to continuously improve our website by compiling visitor statistics. Read more about cookies


Germ cell tumors in the body

Every year, approximately 12-15 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with a germ cell tumor in the body. The tumor can occur at any age and just as often in boys as in girls.

The brochure Germ cell tumors contains comprehensive information about this disease. Please note this brochure is currently only available in Dutch. The most important information is provided below.


Germ cell tumors are caused by a developmental error in one of the reproductive cells. Presumably, something has already changed in the cell's DNA in the nucleus before birth. The cause of that change is unknown. Germ cell tumors occur in the reproductive organs, but can also occur elsewhere.


The symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. A tumor in the bottom region of the spinal column can cause visible swelling. If the tumor has grown inwardly, your child might suffer bladder and bowel dysfunction or they might have behavioral disorders. If a germ cell tumor occurs in the testicle, the scrotum is swollen; this is not very painful, if at all. A tumor in or near the ovary will eventually cause the abdomen to swell. The tumor can cause the ovary to rotate, which is very painful. In the event of a large tumor, the bladder and/or intestines can be flattened. Your child then has to urinate often and has difficulty defecating. The production of hormones can cause a child to enter early (precocious) puberty. A tumor in the chest can cause breathing problems.

How is a germ cell tumor in the body diagnosed?

An ultrasound and an MRI scan are performed and blood is drawn. Other scans can also be performed, as well as a biopsy in some instances.


Most children are only required to have surgery, after which they are monitored by means of regular check-ups. If the tumor cannot be removed completely or if the tumor has metastasized, your child is given chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment. In the event of a large tumor, chemotherapy is usually the first course of treatment, followed by surgery, followed by a second course of chemotherapy. If the tumor comes back, surgery is usually performed again, followed by more chemotherapy.

Chance of recovery

On average, children with a germ cell tumor stand a 90% chance of recovery. 


Children and adolescents with a germ cell tumor in their body are treated in the solid tumors department.