Teratoma is cysts that are usually harmless and benign occurring in men. There are two types of teratoma: malignant and benign. Malignant ones are cancerous occurring in chest area but they would spread rapidly to other parts of the body before it is being diagnosed. Three layers of cells like ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm are found in every cell of the skin. Teratoma type of cyst or tumor develops usually before birth and hence they are congenital (inherited by birth) in nature.
Exact cause that triggers teratoma is not known. But it is believed to be caused by genetic factor. The defective genes are present in the chromosomes that affect the functions of nervous system, spinal cord and urinary tract.
Some of the symptoms of teratoma are moderate chest pain, repeated cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and poor tolerance. The signs of one child will be different from that of the other. A lump or mass or bulging area can be seen on the chest region. The child’s blood test will show high levels of AFP alpha fetoprotein and beta human chorionic gonadotropin hormone. There may be symptoms of urinary incontinence, constipation and extreme weakness in the legs, in case the tumor is present in the sacrum.
Teratoma can be identified even before birth while doing routine prenatal scanning of the mother’s uterus. Your doctor will do a physical exam for checking whether there is any block in the veins that enter the heart region. There will be constant pressure on the chest region. He may order for X-ray of the chest, CT scan or MRI scan of chest and abdomen and routine blood test for checking the levels of alpha fetoprotein.
Like many other types of cancer, teratoma can be treated by chemotherapy for reducing the ability of the cancer causing tumor to grow and multiply. However there is chance for destroying healthy cells while doing chemotherapy for cancerous cells. Radiation therapy is a procedure in which high energy powerful rays are passed into the cancerous cysts for shrinking tumors and cysts.
Medications like etoposide, bleomycin and cisplatin are prescribed. The health of the patient should be monitored regularly for eliminating any possibility of cancerous tumors. Surgery is done for removing cancerous tumor that is larger in size. The nature of treatment depends on the size of the tumor and its location. Follow up visits is a must for monitoring the growth of cysts and to manage any complications that may arise from time to time.