Germ Cell Tumor - Childhood: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing a germ cell tumor. Use the menu to see other pages.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a tumor. Although risk factors often influence the development of a tumor, most do not directly cause a tumor. Some children with several risk factors never develop a tumor, while others with no known risk factors do.

The following factors may raise a child’s risk of developing an extracranial, gonadal germ cell tumor:

  • Cryptorchidism. If a child has an undescended testicle, they have a higher risk of developing a testicular seminoma tumor. To learn more, see the full guide to testicular cancer on this same website.

  • Turner syndrome. Turner syndrome is a genetic condition in which a girl is born with a missing X chromosome. Girls with this condition have a higher risk of developing a gonadoblastoma, a benign tumor that can eventually turn into cancer.

  • Intersex conditions, such as androgen insensitivity syndrome. Androgen insensitivity syndrome is when the body of a person who is genetically male, with 1 X and 1 Y chromosome, is resistant to male hormones called androgens. A person with this syndrome has a higher risk of developing a gonadoblastoma or other germ cell tumors.

The following factor may raise a person’s risk of developing an extracranial, extragonadal germ cell tumor:

  • Klinefelter’s syndrome. Men with this genetic condition are born with an extra X chromosome, so they have XXY chromosomes. Klinefelter’s syndrome is connected to a higher risk of a germ cell tumor in the chest.

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what body changes or medical problems a germ cell tumor can cause. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.