What is Teratoma?
Teratoma is a type of a tumor which is basically made up of tissues such as hairs, muscle, and bone. These tumors can be both benign as well as malignant. The usual location of Teratoma (tumors) is ovaries in females and testicles in males.
The symptoms of a Teratoma are variable and can range from a painful bump to a mass. These masses can be seen clearly on fetal ultrasound suggesting that the baby is suffering from Teratoma.
The usual mode of treatment for Teratoma is surgical removal of the tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy may be required for malignant forms of Teratoma.
What are the Causes of Teratoma?
The root cause as to why there is development of a Teratoma is not completely understood but researchers believe they are as a result of certain inherited defects which affect the central nervous system, GU tract, and the lower spine.
What are the Symptoms of Teratoma?
The symptoms experienced by a child with Teratoma are variable and depends on the location of the tumor and the size of it. The main symptoms are palpable swelling or bump. Investigational studies tend to show elevated alpha fetoprotein levels and elevated beta HCG levels.
Additionally, the child may complain of constipation, incontinence, and leg weakness in case the location of the Teratoma is around the sacral region of the body.
How is Teratoma Diagnosed?
A fetal ultrasound can easily detect the presence of a mass suggesting Teratoma. After birth, a biopsy of the mass can also confirm the diagnosis of Teratoma. Additionally, a complete blood count, blood chemistry, and evaluation of kidney and liver function tests are also quite helpful in confirming the diagnosis of Teratoma.
Apart from this, advanced radiological studies in the form of a VT scan and MRI of the area where the tumor is located can also confirm the diagnosis of Teratoma. An ultrasound is also a very handy diagnostic tool to confirm the diagnosis of Teratoma.
How is Teratoma Treated?
The treatment for Teratoma depends on the size and location of the tumor. The most preferred treatment for Teratoma is surgical removal of the tumor and other organs involved with the tumor. In case if the biopsy of the mass turns out to be positive for malignancy, then surgical removal is followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Post surgical removal of Teratoma, the patient will need close observation with diligent followups, physical examination to look for any signs of recurrence of the tumor, and laboratory testing to check the levels of alpha fetoprotein and beta HCG to determine whether the levels have normalized after surgical removal of Teratoma. Serial imaging studies may also be required to look for any signs of recurrence of Teratoma.