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Ovarian and testicular germ cell cancer

We are the UK’s leading centre for the treatment of germ cell cancers and the most prominent unit worldwide for the ovarian form of this disease.

Our highly-specialist service based at Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals is headed by Professor Michael Seckl, professor of molecular cancer medicine, who is the world’s foremost expert on these conditions.

Our centre has an international reputation because:

  • We achieve recovery rates which are among the best in the world due to the level of our expertise and our programme of research.
  • We are world-leading experts in germ cell cancers and treat more cases of the ovarian form than anywhere else.
  • We follow an expert multi-disciplinary approach to treatment with all the associated specialist expertise, whether your case is routine or more complicated.
  • We provide access to experimental therapies and the newest chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) through involvement in clinical trials.

What are germ cell cancers?

We see more than 40 new cases of germ cell cancers every year. They typically affect people in their late teens to mid-30s and develop from the reproductive cells. The two main types are a rare form of ovarian cancer and the most common form of testicular cancer, although very rarely germ cell tumours can appear in other areas of the body.

Professor Michael Seckl

Professor Michael Seckl sees a mixture of patients with rare cancers including all germ cell cancers in men and women, other rare ovarian and testicular cancers and adrenal cortical carcinoma. He is also an international leader on gestational trophoblastic disease, a type of gynaecological cancer and has an active research interest in lung cancer.

Your treatment for germ cell cancer

As a highly expert centre, we can help in terms of diagnosis and most critically in providing individual treatment with the aim of achieving a full recovery. Germ cell cancers respond well to treatment and even in the most difficult cases our survival rates are 70 per cent, which is higher than many other centres.

As one of our cancer patients, you will have consultant-led care supported by a fully comprehensive multi-disciplinary team approach with input from a range of experts which can include gynaecologists, urologists, radiologists, surgeons and oncologist and clinical specialist nurses.

Once you are referred to us, we will carry out an urgent review of your blood tests, tissue samples and scans to determine treatment. This depends on the site and type of germ cell tumour and usually involves a combination of surgery to remove the tumour and chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

You may be offered a combination of drugs followed by regular scans to ensure the cancer has not returned. We also have the expertise to deliver treatment which preserves your fertility as much as possible.

Our research

Our expert clinicians are involved in the latest research so you will have access to up-to-date treatments and the best approaches to treating your cancer.

We were the first centre in the world, for example, to show that ovarian germ cell tumours behave differently from testicular germ cell tumours and this has informed our approach to treatment such as using more intensive drug regimes for ovarian tumours.

We have pioneered the use of high-dose chemotherapy to beat the disease in patients who no longer respond to standard therapies and we have also pioneered developments in monitoring disease which has spared many patients from the need for chemotherapy. Our team is also pioneering fertility preservation.

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