Teratoma refers to the usual tumors quite rare in nature. Discovering it a quite alarming process. You may wonder why. The reason is unlike the other tumors, it contains body parts. Shocked? The teratoma consists of hair, teeth, organs, and limbs. Around the world, many instances of rare tumor have shocked people. In general cases, tumors just consist of masses of the cell. The unusual reproduction of the cells can result in discomfort.
The tumor’s location is significant in deciding the kind of cells it may consist of. But, teratoma has cells that are found throughout the body. The cells replicate and result in the creation of the rare kind of tumor. So, the inclusion of different cells from the entire body is the reason you find brain cells, limbs, or even teeth in the rare tumors. Do you wish to know more? The, read ahead to get in-depth information about the tumor.
What Is Teratoma?
The word teratoma is a combination of two Greek words. While teras means monster and onkoma is synonymous with swelling. So, together it refers to monster swelling. The exact reason for the formation of the tumor is unknown. But, you need to understand that the tumor is the development of actual tissue development germ cell instead of the germ cells itself. So, the tumor consists of fully developed tissues. So, it contains bone, muscles, teeth, hair, etc. it can occur anywhere in the body, but is more common in females compared to males. But, newborn babies can also get tumors. The tumor usually found in newborns have a benign nature. It requires surgical intervention to alleviate the problem. The teratoma occurs mostly in the following body parts:
Types Of Teratomas
The teratomas get into different types based on its cancerous nature. Therefore, the types are:
The teratomas are not cancerous. The benign tumors are surgically removed from the body. But, the problem is it can grow back even after the removal. The mature teratomas have diverse types. So, the further classification is:
- Cystic: The tumor enclosed in a sac contains its own fluid. It is also referred to as dermoid cysts.
- Solid: It is not self-enclosed. But, the tumor encompasses tissue.
- Mixed: As the name suggests, it contains both the cystic as well as solid parts.
The immature teratomas pose a greater risk to your life. It can develop into cancer. The malignant nature of the tumor makes it more dangerous.
Symptoms Of Teratoma
The basic symptoms of teratoma can help you take the right steps to overcome the problem. Unfortunately, it has no symptoms at first. But, depending on the place in your body it develops, it has specific signs. The common signs and symptoms that people with teratoma irrespective of its location suffer are:
- Mild increase in AFP (Alpha-ferroprotein, a marker for tumors)
- A slight increase in BhCG (beta-human chorionic gonadotropin
The teratomas can occur in some locations very commonly compared to others. The locations affected by the rare tumors are:
- Coccyx (Tailbone)
Tailbone (Sacrococcygeal) Teratoma
The tailbone teratoma is the most common among the rare form of a tumor. It is also known as the sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT). It develops in the tailbone section (coccyx) of the human body. The tumor is commonly found in the newborn and the children. But, the rare form of tumor develops in one among several thousand (35000 to 40000) infants. The tumor can grow inside the body as well as outside the tailbone section of the body. The problem can have other symptoms apart from the tumor-like:
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling in the pubic area
- Feel weak in the leg
- Painful urination
It is common in infant girls compared to the boys.
Ovarian teratoma is a condition that affects women. So, it can result in the intense pain in the abdomen or pelvic region. It is due to the ovarian torsion. The ovarian torsion refers to the twisting pressure on the organ. So, the growing mass can contribute to intense pain and discomfort.
In some cases, the problem accompanies with NMDA encephalitis. It is a rare condition affecting mental health. Therefore, it can cause an intense headache. People also experience psychosis or confusion (the common psychiatric symptoms).
The main issue associated with the problem is the swelling or lump in the testicle region. But, some people may not experience any signs at all. The issue is common among people aged between twenty and thirty. But, the issue can affect at any age. If people experience swelling in the testicle area, then you need immediate medical attention. So, monitor the changes occurring in the body closely.
Main Causes Of Teratoma
The differentiation and specialization of your body cells lead to the development of teratomas. It is the complication encountered with your body’s growth process. It happens during fetal development. So, the teratoma arises with your body’s cell during the fetal stage. When the germ cells become the egg-producing or sperm-producing cells. Therefore, you develop it at the fetal stage of the pregnancy. But, the germ cell can also appear in other parts of the body. The germ cells can occur very commonly in areas like mediastinum (the membrane you can find separating the lungs) and the tailbone.
Germ cells are one of the major causes of teratoma. The cells also are known as pluripotent can differentiate into other special cells. So, you can find it anywhere in your body. Most doctors agree that the teratomas occur due to the condition in primordial germ cells. The theory referred to as parthenogenic theory sheds light into the issue. The theory gives comprehensive information on the appearance of the hair, wax, and teeth with the tumor. Therefore, the teratoma has the appearance of a fetus (almost well-formed). The germ cells have a significant role in deciding the location of the teratomas.
Another Cause Of Teratomas- The Twin Theory
The twin theory is rare. But, it offers a plausible explanation to the teratoma appearance. It can appear in about one in five lakh people. It is also referred to as the fetus within another fetus (fetuin future). The teratoma has the appearance of a fetus. But, is malformed. The teratoma encompasses living tissue. But, as it has no amniotic sac or placenta, it has no chances to develop into a baby. So, the doctors present the following theories:
The undeveloped twin in the womb can lead to the fetus in fetu phenomenon. The undeveloped twin gets absorbed by the developed one resulting in teratoma in the surviving child.
Another twin theory suggests the teratoma as the developed dermoid cyst.
The fetus in fetu is not found in all twins. The possibility has increased chances with the following factors like:
- The twins in the womb have their own amniotic fluid (medically referred to as diamniotic)
- The twins have the condition monochorionic (share the same placenta)
The doctor can detect the issue during the ultrasound. So, it is possible to detect the fetus in fetu during the infancy stage. If the doctor misses it during the ultrasound, it gets detected before the child is 18 months of age. So, the fetus in fetu is a medical rarity. But, the teratoma has spinal structure and limb buds. The only missing part from the normal fetus is the brain structure.
Association Between Teratoma And Cancer
You can classify teratoma into two types namely the cancerous and non-cancerous teratoma. The cancerous presence depends on the location of the teratoma in your body.
The sacrococcygeal teratoma occurs in the benign form. But, irrespective of the non-cancerous nature, it needs removal. It is due to the fact that the size and possibility of future growth make it dangerous. The type of teratoma even occurs in the newborn.
The ovarian teratoma is mature in nature. It is also referred to as dermoid cysts. Unfortunately, ovarian teratoma can become cancerous in nature. Women in their reproductive years can develop the issue. Although the malignant teratoma occurs rarely in women. So, women between the age group of 20-30 can have the issue.
Testicular teratoma gets classified into two types.
Also known as a pediatric teratoma, it is non-cancerous in nature. The mature form of the tumor makes is less harmful.
The testicular teratoma appearing in the post-puberty phase has a cancerous presence. The malignant nature of the tumor makes it dangerous. Majority of the men diagnosed with the issue experience spread of cancer. So, the detection occurs only after metastasis increasing the dangerous nature of the problem.
The diagnosis of the rare tumor depends on its location. So, your doctor first establishes the area of occurrence of the tumor. It helps to proceed with the diagnosis and develop the treatment plan. Therefore, the discovery of the teratoma is integral for developing an apt treatment plan.
Sacrococcygeal Teratoma (SCT)
The issue is common in the fetus. So, it is mostly detected during the routine ultrasound. The gynecologist can find the large sacrococcygeal teratomas during the imaging test. So, it shows the swelling in the tailbone section of the newborn. Once the child is born, the rare tumor detection takes place with the following techniques:
The pelvic x-ray can show the swelling or the abnormal mass that indicates the presence of the tumor.
The CT-scans use sophisticated imaging techniques to provide a much clearer picture of the tumor. Hence, the imaging test can give a clear idea about the issue.
The blood test can reveal the presence of the tumor. Some markers in the blood revealed the presence of the tumor in your body.
Dermoid cysts can cause no symptoms in people. So, the mature ovarian teratomas trigger no signs or symptoms. In most cases, the problem gets detected accidentally during a routine gynecologic exam. While the small cysts cause no issue, the large ones cause immense pain. Therefore, women with large dermoid cysts can suffer from intense pain. The twisting pain in the pelvic or abdominal region can cause distress.
The swelling of the testes can indicate something is wrong. But, in most cases, men never feel any problem. So, the growing tumors have no signs at the initial stages. It is mostly diagnosed accidentally.
The pain or injury due to trauma can prompt your doctor to perform the physical test. It can reveal the swelling or growing tumor. The pain while touching the area can signify the presence of a benign or malignant tumor. Therefore, your doctor can suggest further tests to diagnose the issue correctly.
The blood test can reveal the presence of AFP and BhCG. The elevated levels of the markers in the blood can reveal the presence of the tumor. Therefore, blood tests can confirm the malignancy of the atrophy.
Your doctor can detect the progress or the spread of the teratoma with imaging techniques like ultrasound.
The x-ray images can confirm the spread of the cancerous tumor to another part of the body. The abdomen and chest x-rays can provide a precise idea about the progress of the issue.
Teratoma Treatment Options
Depending on the location of the rare tumor, your healthcare professional opts for the treatment. The treatment techniques for each type of teratoma varies. So, read ahead to know more about it in detail.
Sacrococcygeal Teratoma (SCT)
The type of tumor gets during the routine ultrasound during the pregnancy. With the detection, your doctor carefully monitors the fetal and the rest of your pregnancy with caution. The small size of the tumor makes it possible for normal vaginal delivery. But, the large size of the tumor or excess amniotic fluid can make normal delivery impossible. So, cesarean delivery can reduce the risk associated with birth.
In some rare cases, the doctor suggests fetal surgery for removing SCT. It can reduce the life-threatening complications associated with it. The SCTs detected after birth or during it needs surgery. After the surgery, it needs close monitoring. It is due to the increases chance of regrowth of SCTs within the next three years. The malignant teratoma needs surgery as well as chemotherapy. With the increased techniques, you have high chances of survival.
The ovarian teratoma comes under the category of mature ones. So, the removal of the dermoid cysts prevents any further complications. Mostly, laparoscopic surgery can remove the small cysts without any damage to the other tissues. With a small incision in the abdomen, a scope gets inserted into your body. The cutting tool can remove the dermoid cyst. You have to face a small amount of risk with the surgery. If the laparoscopic surgeon is not careful, the cysts get punctured. It can leak waxy material in the body. So, it causes inflammation known as peritonitis.
For bigger cysts, a part of ovary needs removal. So, it affects the ovulation and menstruation in women. Though with a single ovary, the ovulation and subsequent menstruation can occur. But, in a small percentage of cases, both ovaries have the dermoid cysts. Hence, it affects fertility drastically. Most girls in their early twenties have the risk of getting immature ovarian teratomas. Even with a late diagnosis, it has a good prognosis. So, a combination of surgery and chemotherapy can overcome the issue with ease.
The testicle needs surgical removal for the cancerous type of teratomas. It is the first line of treatment adopted by the healthcare professional to avoid further complications. Like other cancers, chemotherapy is not effective for testicular teratoma. But, your doctor adopts chemotherapy for the mix of teratoma and other cancerous tissue in the testicle. The removal of testicle has far-fetched consequences. It can affect the sexual health of men. So, with the treatment, it can reduce fertility and sperm count. With the sophisticated technologies introduced in the medical field, you have more options. So, you just need to discuss the other options with your doctor.
The teratomas are very rare in nature. And even when you experience the issue, it is mostly benign in nature. But, the advancements in the medical field offers you several treatment options. It can even help you overcome the cancerous teratomas. The chances of a complete cure are relatively high today. So, you just need to get the right information about the condition. It will help you find the right medical professional with experience to get good treatment. With the best options, you have increased chances of successful outcomes.
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