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Childhood Central Nervous System Germ Cell Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)

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Treatment of Newly Diagnosed Childhood Nongerminomatous Germ Cell Tumors

The prognosis for children with nongerminomatous germ cell tumors (NGGCTs) remains inferior to germinomas, but the differential is diminishing with the recent addition of multimodality therapy. With the current treatment regimens, the 10-year overall survival (OS) for NGGCTs is between 70% and 80%.[1,2] NGGCTs are radiosensitive, but survival after standard craniospinal irradiation alone has been poor, ranging from 20% to 45% at 5 years. Of the patients with NGGCTs who relapse, most relapse within 18 months.

Treatment Options for Newly Diagnosed Childhood NGGCTs

Treatment options for newly diagnosed childhood NGGCTs include the following:

  1. Chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy.
  2. Adjuvant therapy.
    • Surgery, for tumors that do not respond to treatment or for tumors that increase in size after therapy (possible growing teratoma syndrome).
    • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue, for high-risk germ cell tumors.

The optimal treatment regimen for NGGCTs remains unclear.

Chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy

Anticancer agents that have been used include carboplatin, etoposide, bleomycin, ifosfamide, and vinblastine in different combinations. The use of chemotherapy before radiation therapy has increased survival rates, but the specific chemotherapy regimen and length of therapy and the optimal radiation field, timing, and dose remain under investigation.[1,3,4] Some investigators have proposed radiation therapy fields that are smaller than craniospinal irradiation (e.g., whole ventricular with boost radiation therapy to the local tumor site) for nondisseminated NGGCT patients. Controversy exists over the pattern of relapse for patients treated with chemotherapy and focal radiation.[1,2,5,6]

Adjuvant therapy

Commonly, patients treated with chemotherapy may have normalization of tumor markers with a less-than-complete radiographic response. A second-look surgery can help determine if the residual mass contains teratoma, fibrosis, or residual NGGCT.[2] Occasionally, the mass continues to expand in size even though tumor markers may have normalized; this may be due to the growing teratoma syndrome and not a failure to treat the NGGCT component.[7,8] In such circumstances, surgery is usually required for debulking and histologic confirmation.

High-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue has shown promise as consolidation therapy for some high-risk germ cell tumors (GCTs).[9]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation for Newly Diagnosed Childhood NGGCTs

The following is an example of a national and/or institutional clinical trial that is currently being conducted or is under analysis. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation for newly diagnosed childhood NGGCTs include the following:

  1. COG-ACNS1123 [NCT01602666] (Chemotherapy Followed by Radiation Therapy in Treating Younger Patients With Newly Diagnosed Localized Central Nervous System [CNS] GCTs): COG-ACNS1123 is a Children’s Oncology Group cooperative multi-institutional trial. This phase II trial of response-based radiation therapy for patients with localized CNS GCTs will compare the event-free survival and OS rates of a short course of chemotherapy followed by response-based, whole-ventricular radiation, with a boost to the primary site. For patients who obtain a complete response after chemotherapy, the whole-ventricular radiation dose will be 25% lower than the standard whole-ventricular dose; for patients who have less than a complete response after chemotherapy, the standard whole-ventricular dose will be used, with or without second-look surgery.


  1. Robertson PL, DaRosso RC, Allen JC: Improved prognosis of intracranial non-germinoma germ cell tumors with multimodality therapy. J Neurooncol 32 (1): 71-80, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Baranzelli M, Patte C, Bouffet E, et al.: Carboplatin-based chemotherapy (CT) and focal irradiation (RT) in primary germ cell tumors (GCT): A French Society of Pediatric Oncology (SFOP) experience (meeting abstract). [Abstract] Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 18: A-538, 140A, 1999.
  3. Matsutani M; Japanese Pediatric Brain Tumor Study Group: Combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy for CNS germ cell tumors--the Japanese experience. J Neurooncol 54 (3): 311-6, 2001. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Calaminus G, Bamberg M, Jürgens H, et al.: Impact of surgery, chemotherapy and irradiation on long term outcome of intracranial malignant non-germinomatous germ cell tumors: results of the German Cooperative Trial MAKEI 89. Klin Padiatr 216 (3): 141-9, 2004 May-Jun. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Aoyama H, Shirato H, Ikeda J, et al.: Induction chemotherapy followed by low-dose involved-field radiotherapy for intracranial germ cell tumors. J Clin Oncol 20 (3): 857-65, 2002. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Kim JW, Kim WC, Cho JH, et al.: A multimodal approach including craniospinal irradiation improves the treatment outcome of high-risk intracranial nongerminomatous germ cell tumors. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 84 (3): 625-31, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Yagi K, Kageji T, Nagahiro S, et al.: Growing teratoma syndrome in a patient with a non-germinomatous germ cell tumor in the neurohypophysis--case report. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 44 (1): 33-7, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Kim CY, Choi JW, Lee JY, et al.: Intracranial growing teratoma syndrome: clinical characteristics and treatment strategy. J Neurooncol 101 (1): 109-15, 2011. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Motzer RJ, Mazumdar M, Bajorin DF, et al.: High-dose carboplatin, etoposide, and cyclophosphamide with autologous bone marrow transplantation in first-line therapy for patients with poor-risk germ cell tumors. J Clin Oncol 15 (7): 2546-52, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: April 9, 2015