Germ Cell Tumor - Childhood: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of a germ cell tumor. Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the symptoms and signs of a germ cell tumor?

A child with an extracranial, extragonadal germ cell tumor may experience one or more of the following symptoms and signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, children with a germ cell tumor do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not a tumor.

  • Pain in the affected area

  • Constipation, which is infrequent or difficult passage of stool

  • Urinary retention, meaning the inability to urinate

  • Cough and/or difficulty breathing

If you are concerned about any changes your child experiences, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your doctor will try to understand what is causing your child’s symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If a germ cell tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your child’s medical care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative and "supportive care,” which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as a tumor. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during cancer treatment. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping with Treatment.

Be sure to talk with your child’s health care team about the symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.