Objectives: To determine the incidence and characteristics of pediatric patients with central nervous system (CNS) germ cell tumors (GCT) in Canada.
Method: A national retrospective review of hospital charts was done on all patients with CNS GCT diagnosed between 1990 and 2004. Patients had to be under age 18 years at the time of diagnosis of a CNS germ cell tumor and be a resident of Canada. Information extracted included age and year of diagnosis, pathological diagnosis, location of tumor, evidence of disseminated disease at time of diagnosis and biological markers.
Results: One hundred and twenty-one cases were identified (83 germinoma; 38 non-germinoma germ cell tumor). The mean annual incidence of CNS GCT was 1.06 per million children (0.7 per million for germinoma; 0.3 per million for NGGCT). Though yearly incidences varied, there was no clear trend to increased incidence. Male predominance was noted (2.4:1 for germinoma; 11:1 for NGGCT). The primary locations were the pineal and suprasellar regions. At the time of diagnosis, disseminated disease was not uncommon (22% germinoma; 32% NGGCT). Beta human gonadotrophin was elevated in the serum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or both in 7% of patients with germinoma and 36% of patients with NGGCT. Elevation of alpha-fetoprotein in serum, CSF or both was seen in 34% of patients with NGGCT.
Conclusion: The incidence of CNS germ cell tumors in Canadian children is similar to that observed in other Western countries.