Dysgerminoma is a germ cell tumor and a type of malignant ovarian cancer. It is the most common type of malignant germ cell ovarian cancer, but accounts for less than 1 percent of ovarian tumors overall.
Dysgerminoma usually develops in adolescents, particularly prepubescents, and rarely develops in patients over 50. Approximately 60 percent of patients diagnosed are under 20 years old; 10 percent of patients develop masses in both ovaries. This is not a rapidly spreading mass.
Signs & Symptoms
This type of tumor is often asymptomatic in the early stages. Later, patients can develop any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the pelvis
- Full feeling
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Mild abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Mass in the pelvis
- Diagnosis & Treatment
All dysgerminomas are considered malignant, but only one-third of these growths are classified as aggressive. Dysgerminoma can be detected during a routine pelvic exam. Doctors may also prescribe a blood test to examine the patient’s tumor markers, or substances that are already in the blood but may be unusually high if there is cancer present.
These tumors are highly treatable and respond well to chemotherapy and radiation—particularly when these treatments are done together (chemotherapy can shrink the tumor, but it is recommended that radiation be given to the patient, as well). The tumor may metastasize, or spread, to the liver, lungs, lymph nodes, or bones.
Women with stage I dysgerminoma often undergo surgery that isolates the mass as much as possible in order to preserve their fertility. This procedure, along with aggressive follow-up care, improves their prognosis considerably.
Dysgerminoma is a highly treatable form of cancer, with most patients experiencing a 95 to 100 percent 5-year recovery rate if the mass remains in the ovary, and 63 percent if the mass metastasizes (spreads).