What is germ cell ovarian cancer?

This section is for teenagers and young adults. We also have more general information about ovarian germ cell tumours written for all age groups.

There are three types of ovarian cancer: 

  • germ cell tumours
  • epithelial tumours
  • stromal cell tumours. 

Germ cell tumours of the ovary are the most common type of ovarian cancer in teenagers and young women. These germ cell tumours may be called: 

  • dysgerminoma 
  • teratoma 
  • yolk sac tumour.

Your specialist can tell you more about the type of germ cell tumour that you have. 

Germ cell tumours of the ovary are rare. They start in the egg-producing cells of the ovary in girls and young women (aged 10-30). Tumours are often only in one ovary.  They can usually be successfully treated, even if they’ve spread to other parts of the body. 

If you have a different type of ovarian cancer and want to know more you can talk to us

Causes

We do not know what causes germ cell tumours. Research into possible causes is going on all the time. 

Germ cells are a normal part of the ovary, but something causes them to change. This makes them grow too quickly and they make a tumour. 

Signs and symptoms

  • pain or swelling in your tummy (abdomen)
  • a feeling of fullness or bloating in your tummy
  • irregular periods
  • needing to wee more often

Remember, these symptoms happen for reasons other than cancer. But if you have any of them, it is important to see your doctor

If you are worried about ovarian cancer

If you think you might have some of these symptoms, go and see your GP. They will be able to talk to you about your symptoms and may be able to reassure you. Your GP might not know what is causing your symptoms, or they may think your symptoms could be caused by cancer. If this is the case, they will arrange tests to find out more.

Watch: Megan talks about the impact of cancer

Watch: Megan talks about the impact of cancer

Back to Ovarian cancer

The ovaries

To understand ovarian cancer, it helps to know a bit about the ovaries.

Having tests

Your GP may arrange for you to have tests to see whether you have ovarian cancer.

Life after treatment

Find out what will happen when you finish treatment for ovarian cancer, and how you can cope with any effects.