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Unusual Cancers of Childhood (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Unusual Cancers of the Reproductive and Urinary Systems


Most ovarian tumors in children are benign (not cancer). They occur most often in females aged 15 to 19 years.

There are several common types of malignant ovarian tumors:

  • Germ cell tumors: Tumors that start in egg cells in females. These are the most common ovarian tumors in girls. (See the PDQ summary on Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors Treatment for more information on ovarian germ cell tumors.)
  • Epithelial tumors: Tumors that start in the tissue covering the ovary. These are the second most common ovarian tumors in girls.
  • Stromal tumors: Tumors that begin in stromal cells, which make up tissues that surround and support the ovaries.
  • Other tumors, such as Burkitt lymphoma and small cell carcinoma of the ovary (a very rare tumor).

Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Diagnostic and Staging Tests

The risk of ovarian cancer is increased by having one of the following conditions:

  • Ollier disease (a disorder that causes abnormal growth of cartilage at the end of long bones).
  • Maffucci syndrome (a disorder that causes abnormal growth of cartilage at the end of long bones and of blood vessels in the skin).
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.

Ovarian cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if you see any of the following problems in your child:

  • Painful menstrual periods.
  • A lump in the abdomen.
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Having male sex traits, such as body hair or a deep voice.
  • Early signs of puberty.

Other conditions that are not ovarian cancer may cause these same symptoms.

Tests to diagnose and stage ovarian cancer may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • CT scan.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Biopsy.

See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.


Ovarian epithelial cancer is usually found at an early stage in children and is easier to treat than in adult patients.


Treatment of ovarian epithelial cancer may include the following:

  • Surgery.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Combination chemotherapy.

Treatment of ovarian stromal tumors may include the following:

  • Surgery to remove one ovary and one fallopian tube, for early cancer.
  • Surgery followed by chemotherapy for cancer that is advanced.
  • Chemotherapy for cancer that has recurred (come back).

See the following PDQ summaries for more information:

  • Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors Treatment
  • Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Treatment
  • Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors Treatment

Cervical and Vaginal Cancer

Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal). Vaginal cancer forms in the vagina. The vagina is the canal leading from the cervix to the outside of the body. At birth, a baby passes out of the body through the vagina (also called the birth canal).


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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