Anterior mediastinal germ cell tumors

Last revised by Mostafa Elfeky on 1 Apr 2022

Germ cell tumors are one of the causes of an anterior mediastinal mass, and any of the germ cell histologies may be identified. They can therefore be divided histologically into:

Alternatively, anterior mediastinal germ cell tumors can be thought of as benign and malignant 1:

  • benign
    • mature teratoma
    • mature teratoma with an immature component of less than 50% 1
  • malignant
    • all others

Mature teratomas are the most frequent histology encountered in the mediastinum (see mediastinal teratoma) and account for ~60% (range 50-70%) of all mediastinal germ cell tumors 2.

It is difficult to distinguish between the various malignant histologies, and clinical correlation with serum tumor markers (AFP, beta-HCG) and biopsy is usually required.

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