According to Acronymmonster, a dysgerminoma is a malignant tumor that affects the female ovary. The disease is also known as the seminoma of the ovary and is a malignant tumor of the germ cells. In the majority of cases, a dysgerminoma has no hormonal activity. The dysgerminoma is composed of virtually undifferentiated germ cells and is characterized by rapid growth.
What is a dysgerminoma?
Basically, the dysgerminoma is the tumor of the female germ cells that occurs with the greatest frequency. About two to five percent of all malignant ovarian tumors are dysgerminomas. The dysgerminoma most commonly affects women at a young age.
Around 90 percent of all patients have not yet completed their third decade of life. Due to its occurrence in young women, the dysgerminoma is diagnosed by chance in numerous cases during examinations during pregnancy.
At the present time, no reliable statements can be made about the exact causes of the pathogenesis of the dysgerminoma. On the one hand, genetic dispositions come into question as possible factors in the development of dysgerminomas. On the other hand, in the case of tumors, environmental factors are generally also able to influence and promote the development of carcinomas.
A combination of genetic and external influencing factors is also possible, with gene disposition making it particularly susceptible to certain environmental factors. Various medical studies are currently researching the causes of dysgerminoma.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
The dysgerminoma usually causes hardly any specific complaints, so that the diagnosis is often delayed and, in many cases, made too late. Pain in the region of the abdomen is typical of the dysgerminoma. When the tumor becomes ischemic, the symptoms sometimes resemble an acute abdomen. More than two-thirds of dysgerminomas only extend to a single ovary.
Much less often the dysgerminoma affects both ovaries. In addition, in about a third of cases, the dysgerminoma is associated with involvement of the lymph nodes. This is the highest rate among all germ cell tumors.
Basically, the dysgerminoma is a malignant tumor, so that immediate treatment of the patient is required in any case. This also applies to the early stages of dysgerminoma. However, since the tumor causes relatively unspecific symptoms, it develops unnoticed in many women for a long time.
For this reason, the diagnosis of dysgerminoma is often only made when the tumor has already developed significantly. Alternatively, the dysgerminoma is often discovered by chance, for example in the course of preventive examinations at the gynecologist or during medical check-ups during pregnancy.
The diagnosis of dysgerminoma must be made by a specialist doctor. The anamnesis focuses on the symptoms of the dysgerminoma and family relationships. Because an accumulation of the dysgerminoma in the relatives is possible. The patient gives the doctor information about the symptoms since when.
The anamnesis is used to prepare for the subsequent clinical examination, which initially uses various imaging methods such as ultrasound or CT examinations. In this way, the tumor of the germ cells can be visualized, which contributes significantly to a reliable diagnosis.
Significant are also cutting back, which are analyzed histologically. As a result, malignant degeneration of cells can be detected. Blood tests of the patient also play an important role, because the serum sometimes contains certain marker substances that indicate the tumor disease.
Because dysgerminoma is a malignant tumor, the usual complications of cancer occur. In the worst case, these can lead to death. This is a fairly common case with a dysgerminoma because the disease is diagnosed too late. In most cases it is not associated with pain or other complaints and can therefore only be discovered during check-ups.
Further treatment usually depends on the stage of the tumor. Radiation therapy is primarily used, which can also be supported by an operative intervention. If all affected regions can be removed, there are usually no further complications. The affected person often has to undergo chemotherapy even after the treatment.
Life expectancy is greatly reduced, but in most patients the tumors cannot be completely removed. It is also not possible to prevent this tumor disease. For this reason, regular check-ups by a gynecologist are particularly important for women in order to avoid further complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you notice pain and pressure in the area of the abdomen, which rapidly increase in intensity and duration, a general practitioner or gynecologist should be consulted immediately. Although these symptoms do not necessarily indicate a dysgerminoma, a serious cause cannot be ruled out. A specific suspicion is justified if the typical signs of an acute abdomen appear. Nausea and vomiting as well as diarrhea, constipation and fever must be clarified immediately.
These clear initial symptoms are usually only expressed in the later course of the dysgerminoma – it is all the more important to see a doctor immediately. If the lymph nodes swell or cause pain, this should be clarified immediately.
A medical emergency occurs when it comes to intestinal obstruction or cardiovascular complaints with a possible circulatory collapse. Women who show signs of these symptoms should call an emergency doctor directly or go to the nearest hospital. In the event of serious complications, it may be necessary to provide first aid on site.
Treatment & Therapy
The therapy of the dysgerminoma depends mainly on the stage of the disease and the question of whether the respective patient still wants children or not. In stage 1A, an adnexa is usually removed as part of a surgical procedure if the patient still wishes to have children. If this is not the case, bilateral adnexectomy, omentectomy and hysterectomy are performed.
Such measures should also be taken in the advanced stages of the omentectomy. Radiation therapy for the dysgerminoma is also an option, as the tumor is relatively sensitive to radiation. Such treatment methods are particularly appropriate after a surgical procedure in order to prevent recurrences. A chemotherapy is not required in stage 1A.
However, it is helpful in the case of incomplete removal of the dysgerminoma and advanced stages of the disease. The patients usually undergo three chemotherapy sessions. The substances cisplatin, etoposide and bleomycin are used here.
The prognosis of the dysgerminoma is comparatively good provided that the tumor is treated appropriately and in good time. About 75 to 90 percent of all patients are still alive ten years after diagnosis and treatment of the dysgerminoma, which is relatively high for malignant tumors. However, this survival rate only applies to illnesses in which the dysgerminoma is less than ten centimeters in size, has an intact capsule and no ascites is present. Adhesions with surrounding tissue are also excluded.
Outlook & forecast
The prognosis of the dysgerminoma depends on the size and stage of the diagnosed tumor. The bigger it is, the worse the chance of recovery. In most cases, the tissue changes can be removed successfully in one surgical procedure. This is followed by treatment with cancer therapy. This is associated with numerous side effects and impairments. If the tumor is smaller than 10 cm, the prognosis is good. Nevertheless, around 10-25% of patients die from the effects of the disease within ten years of the onset of the disease.
Without medical treatment, the patient is at risk of premature death. According to current scientific knowledge, a dysgerminoma can only be removed in a surgical procedure. A spontaneous healing or a prevention of the further progression of the disease are not given. Since a dysgerminoma is symptom-free, it often comes to an incidental finding during a routine examination or during pregnancy. This increases the risk that the tumor will be detected too late.
The prospect of a complete cure decreases as soon as the lymphatic system is also affected by the cancer cells. In addition, there is an increased risk of lifelong infertility for the woman as a result of the procedure. The overall vulnerability of a mental illness is increased and can have a negative impact on the overall prognosis.
The dysgerminoma cannot be specifically prevented at this point in time. Because the causes of the development of dysgerminomas have not yet been researched enough to derive and test appropriate preventive measures. Instead, an early diagnosis of the dysgerminoma is important, which is supported by regular check-ups with the gynecologist.
In the case of a dysgerminoma, the person affected depends primarily on the rapid and early diagnosis of the disease so that the tumor does not spread to other regions of the body. For this reason, the early detection of the disease is in the foreground in the case of a dysgerminoma. The earlier the dysgerminoma is detected, the better the further course is usually.
The follow-up measures are very limited. Even after the tumor has been successfully removed, the person concerned is still dependent on regular examinations of the body in order to detect a new tumor at an early stage. In most cases, this tumor is treated with the help of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
There are no particular complications with the therapies, but those affected depend on the help and support of family and friends. Intensive discussions are also helpful in order to prevent psychological upsets or depression. In most cases, however, the dysgerminoma significantly reduces the life expectancy of those affected. The further course depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, so that no general prediction can be made.
You can do that yourself
If a tumor is suspected, a doctor should be consulted first. If a dysgerminoma is actually present, treatment must be initiated immediately. In addition, the patients should identify possible causes for the disease and aim to change their lifestyle.
If the carcinoma is based on an unhealthy diet, an individual diet must be created. The new nutrition plan must be tailored to the dysgerminoma and the symptoms it triggers. It is also necessary to organize accompanying medicines. This task is best done by the doctor in charge, as effective pain relievers and sedatives often require a prescription.
In most cases, dysgerminoma patients have to be operated on or treated with radiation or chemotherapy. Since these interventions place a great strain on the body, bed rest and relaxation are always indicated.
The patient should take care of himself physically and mentally and work out good accompanying treatment together with the doctor or a therapist. If the course is severe, it makes sense to consult a psychologist. Talking to a specialist can not only take away fears, it often also opens up new opportunities for those affected.