Reference Work Entry

Blaustein’s Pathology of the Female Genital Tract

pp 847-907

Germ Cell Tumors of the Ovary

  • Aleksander TalermanAffiliated withDepartment of Surgical Pathology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Email author 
  • , Russell VangAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Division of Gynecologic Pathology, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


Germ cell tumors are composed of a number of histologically different tumor types derived from the primitive germ cells of the embryonic gonad. The concept of germ cell tumors as a specific group of gonadal neoplasms has evolved over the last several decades. It is based on (1) the common histogenesis of these neoplasms, (2) the relatively frequent presence of histologically different neoplastic elements within the same tumor, (3) the presence of histologically similar neoplasms in extragonadal locations along the line of migration of the primitive germ cells from the wall of the yolk sac to the gonadal ridge [253], and (4) the remarkable homology between the various tumors in the male and the female. In no other group of gonadal neoplasms is this homology better illustrated. Although the strong morphologic resemblance between the testicular seminoma and its ovarian counterpart, the dysgerminoma was noted soon after these neoplasms were first described, for a long time there was no agreement as to their histogenesis. Nevertheless, these were the first neoplasms to become accepted as originating from germ cells. It was not until the studies by Teilum [231, 232] on the homology of ovarian and testicular neoplasms, the studies by Friedman and Moore [59] and Dixon and Moore [50] on testicular tumors, and those by Friedman [58] on related extragonadal neoplasms that the germ cell origin of other neoplasms belonging to this group was proposed. These views were supported by the embryologic studies of Witschi [253] and Gillman [66], and later by the experimental work of Stevens [200202] and Pierce et al [149, 151] on germ cell tumors in rodents.