Ovarian Cancer Home > Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer

When cancer cells form in the egg cells of the ovary, it is called ovarian germ cell cancer. Possible signs include swelling of the abdomen or vaginal bleeding after menopause. Tests that examine the ovaries, pelvic area, blood, and ovarian tissue are used to make a diagnosis. A woman's prognosis and treatment options will depend on the cancer's stage and whether it has spread.

What Is Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer?

Ovarian germ cell cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the germ (egg) cells of the ovary. Germ cell cancer begins in the reproductive cells (egg or sperm) of the body. Ovarian germ cell cancer usually occurs in teenage girls or young women, and usually affects just one ovary.

Types of Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer

Ovarian germ cell cancer is a general name that is used to describe several different types of cancer. The most common type of ovarian germ cell cancer is called dysgerminoma. Other types include:

What Are the Symptoms?

Possible symptoms of ovarian germ cell cancer are:
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.

Diagnosing Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer

Ovarian germ cell cancer can be difficult to diagnose (find) early. In most cases, there are no symptoms in the early stages, but tumors may be found during regular gynecologic examinations.
Women should see their doctor if they have swelling of the abdomen without weight gain in other places or bleeding from the vagina if they have gone through menopause and no longer have menstrual periods.
Tests that examine the ovaries, pelvic area, blood, and ovarian tissue are used to detect and diagnose ovarian germ cell cancer. Tests and procedures that may be used to diagnose ovarian germ cell cancer include:
  • Pelvic exam
  • Surgery (laparotomy)
  • Lymphangiogram
  • Computed tomography scan
  • Blood tests.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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