Germ Cell Tumors: Survival Rates in Female vs Male Patients

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Female patients with ovarian germ cell tumors may have worse prognoses compared with male patients with testicular germ cell tumors, according to a recent study published by Sköld et al in the Journal of Internal Medicine.  


Both ovarian and testicular germ cell tumors predominantly affect younger patients. Among women aged under 30 years, ovarian germ cell tumors are the most common type of ovarian cancer.

“Biologically, both tumors originate from the same type of immature germ cells. Given that the number of [patients] affected by testicular [germ cell tumors] is increasing and more research is therefore needed in this area, [we] wanted to see if it would be possible to apply this knowledge to improve the treatment of [female patients] with the much rarer [ovarian] germ cell tumors”, explained senior study author Ingrid Glimelius, MD, PhD, Professor at Uppsala University and a senior physician at the Oncology Clinic at the Uppsala University Hospital.

Study Methods and Results

In the recent study, investigators compared the treatment guidelines and prognosis for female and male patients with ovarian and testicular germ cell tumors, respectively. They compared the survival rates among 7,663 patients diagnosed with testicular germ cell tumors between 1995 and 2022 and 293 patients diagnosed with ovarian germ cell tumors between 1990 and 2018. The investigators discovered that male patients had a 5-year survival rate of 98.2% vs 85.2% among female patients.


“Our review shows that there is room to improve the prognosis and minimize long-term side effects in [female patients] with ovarian germ cell tumors by using treatment strategies used for testicular [germ cell tumors],” underscored lead study author Camilla Sköld, PhD, a researcher at Uppsala University and a specialist physician in Gynecological Cancer at the Oncology Clinic at the Uppsala University Hospital. “We present an overview of the epidemiological, tumor biology, and clinical guidelines for testicular cancer; and then use that as a basis for proposing measures to improve research and treatment of patients with ovarian germ cell tumors. We believe that concentrating patients with these rare tumors in fewer hospitals could both improve survival and reduce the risk of side effects during treatment. The differences in survival rates may also be partly due to underlying differences in tumor biology between the two types of tumors, and further comparative studies of the tumor biology would therefore be valuable,” Dr. Sköld concluded.

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