Teratoma | Diagnosis & Treatment

How are teratomas diagnosed?

They can often be seen on prenatal ultrasound. Other diagnostic procedures can include:

  • Biopsy: A sample of tissue removed from the tumor and examined under a microscope
  • Complete blood count (CBC): A measurement of size, number, and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of blood
  • Additional blood tests: May include blood chemistries, evaluation of liver and kidney functions and genetic studies
  • Computerized tomography scan (CT or CAT scan): A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • X-ray: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs on film.
    Ultrasound (also called sonography) - A diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

What is the treatment for a teratoma?

Specific treatment for teratoma depends on the type of teratoma your child has.

Treatment generally includes a biopsy and surgical removal of tumors or involved organs, performed by a pediatric surgeon.

If the tumor is malignant, treatment may also include:

  • Chemotherapy: A drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Chemotherapy may be used alone for some types of cancer or in conjunction with other therapy such as radiation or surgery. While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of  this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring, if possible.
  • Radiation therapy: Using high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
  • Supportive care: Any type of treatment to prevent and treat infections, side effects of treatments, and complications, and to keep your child comfortable during treatment.
  • Continual follow-up care: A schedule of follow-up care determined by your child's physician and other members of your care team to monitor ongoing

What is the recommended long-term care for children treated for a teratoma?

Your child should visit a survivorship clinic every year to:

  • manage disease complications
  • screen for early recurrence of cancer
  • manage late effects of treatment

 A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:

  • a physical exam
  • laboratory testing
  • imaging scans

Through the David B. Perini Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team.

  • Our childhood cancer survivorship clinic is held weekly.
  • In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or alternative/complementary therapy specialists.

      We also offer the following services:

  • patient and family education
  • psychosocial assessment
  • genetic counseling
  • reproductive and fertility evaluation and counseling
  • opportunities to speak with other childhood cancer survivors