Germ cell ovarian tumor

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Germ cell ovarian tumor

Reproductive system


Germ cell ovarian tumor


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USMLE® Step 1 questions

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High Yield Notes

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Germ cell ovarian tumor

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USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

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A 10-year-old girl is brought to the emergency department because of abdominal pain and vomiting for the past hour. Temperature is 37°C (98.6°F), pulse is 105/min, and blood pressure is 102/58 mmHg. Leukocyte count is normal. A CT scan of the abdomen reveals a right ovarian mass. She subsequently undergoes laparoscopic unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. A histopathological analysis is performed and the results are shown below:

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Which of the following tumor markers should be used to monitor the response to treatment?  


With germ cell ovarian cancer, germ cell refers to the precursor cells that develop into eggs, ovarian refers to ovary which is where the germ cells live, of which there are two that sit on either side of the uterus.

So, a germ cell ovarian cancer refers to situations where these precursor germ cells become cancerous and form tumors.

During fetal development, the entire body derives from three layers, called germ layers, the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm.

These germ layers are made of germ cells, and the germ cells migrate out and differentiate into all of the different types of tissues, for example some ectodermal germ cells become cells of the brain and spinal cord, some mesodermal form bone and muscle, and some endodermal cells become cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Some very special germ cells, however, remain as germ cells - meaning that they don’t differentiate, they remain pluripotent, meaning that unlike the cells that differentiate these germ cells retain their ability to turn into other cell types. They’re like ancient little shape-shifters.

Normally, during development these germ cells head to the ovary in women or testicle in men where they remain for decades, eventually developing into eggs or sperm, respectively.


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  3. "Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine 8E" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  4. "CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2020" McGraw Hill Professional (2019)
  5. "Mucinous Tumors of the Ovary: Current Thoughts on Diagnosis and Management" Current Oncology Reports (2014)
  6. "A Systematic Review of Symptoms for the Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer" American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2016)
  7. "Ovarian cancer" The Lancet (2014)
  8. "The Application and Outcome of Standard of Care Treatment in Elderly Women with Ovarian Cancer: A Literature Review over the Last 10 Years" Frontiers in Oncology (2016)

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