They are a type of germ cell tumor (a tumor that begins in the cells that give rise to sperm or eggs). They are divided into two types: mature and immature. Mature teratomas include dermoid cysts and are generally benign. Immature teratomas may be cancerous. Most ovarian teratomas are mature. In adults, testicular teratomas are generally cancerous. Definitive diagnosis is based on a tissue biopsy.
Treatment of coccyx, testicular, and ovarian teratomas is generally by surgery. Testicular and immature ovarian teratomas are also frequently treated with chemotherapy.
Teratomas occur in the coccyx in about one in 30,000 newborns, making them one of the most common tumors in this age group. Females are affected more often than males. Ovarian teratomas represent about a quarter of ovarian tumors and are typically noticed during middle age. Testicular teratomas represent almost half of testicular cancers. They can occur in both children and adults. The term comes from the Greek word for “monster” plus the “-oma” suffix used for tumors.