Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors

Introduction to Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors

Intracranial germ cell tumors (GCTs) are a rare group of tumors that start from premature germ cells. These cells are found in the reproductive areas of the body but can also occur in various sites in the brain. Germ cell tumors of the brain can occur in any age of person, but are most common in teenagers. They can range from benign (non-cancerous) to malignant (cancerous). It is important to accurately diagnose these tumors to determine the best course of treatment.

Types of Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors

GCTs can be divided into two main types- primary and secondary. Primary GCTs are tumors that originate from the brain itself. These are classified according to their location. The most common types of primary GCTs are called youth-onset glial tumors, which are found in the suprasellar and organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT). Secondary GCTs are tumors that have metastasized (spread) from other parts of the body to the brain.

Symptoms of Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors

The symptoms of intracranial GCTs can vary widely. Common symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, changes in behavior, and seizures. Depending on the location of the tumor, pressure on the brain or spinal cord can cause other symptoms such as changes in sensation, weakness, or paralysis. It is important to note that some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions and not a GCT.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Intracranial Germ Cell Tumors

Diagnosis of intracranial GCTs usually begins with a medical history and a physical exam. Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans can help to identify the location and size of the tumor. A biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine if the tumor is cancerous or not. Treatment for GCTs depends on the type and location of the tumor, as well as the age and overall health of the patient. Surgery is the most common approach, but radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be necessary.


Intracranial GCTs are a rare type of tumor that can occur in any age of person. These tumors can be benign or cancerous, and the symptoms can vary widely. To diagnose GCTs, imaging tests and a biopsy may be necessary. Surgery is usually the first line of treatment, but radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also options. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms of intracranial GCTs.