NORD gratefully acknowledges N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, C. Everett Koop Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, for his assistance in creating this report.
Cervical teratomas are extremely rare germ cell tumors (neoplasm) that occur in the neck. The majority of teratomas occur in the testes or ovaries (gonads) or the lower back (sacrococcygeal region). In rare cases, other areas such as the neck may be affected. Most cervical tumors occur in children and are non-cancerous (benign). In extremely rare cases, cervical teratomas occur in adults and are usually cancerous (malignant).
The term "cancer" refers to a group of diseases characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled cellular growth that invades surrounding tissues and may spread (metastasize) to distant bodily tissues or organs via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, or other means. Different forms of cancer are be classified based upon the cell type involved, the specific nature of the malignancy, and the disease's clinical course.
Teratomas are germ cell tumors that, in rare cases, occur in the head and neck region. Some researchers differentiate between cervical and primary thyroid teratomas. For a diagnosis of primary thyroid teratoma one of three conditions must be met: a tumor must occupy a portion of the thyroid gland, a direct connection must exist between the tumor and the thyroid, or a teratoma is accompanied by the absence of the thyroid. However, most cervical teratomas have some type of relationship with the thyroid and the clinical picture and prognosis between these tumors is the same. Therefore, many researchers have abandoned separating these tumors and classify all neck teratomas as cervical teratomas.
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