A teratoma is composed of pluripotent cells, capable of differentiating into any type of tissue.

Unlike what Webster 1913 says, it occurs in more than just newborn children and happens in testicular cancer and ovarian cancer, arising from germ cells.


I will never forget the pathology bottle during Pathology class where we saw the teeth sticking out of the mass in a woman's ovary...

A teratoma (from the Greek word teras, which means "monster") is a rare congenital tumor derived from embryonic germ cells. These tumors are most often found in the ovaries and testes, though they can appear anywhere in the body.

These tumors, which can be benign or malignant, contain cells and/or differentiated tissues that should not be found in the organ they afflict.

For instance, a cancerous ovarian teratoma might contain skin cells, cartilage, and lung tissue; a cystic benign ovarian teratoma (also called a dermoid cyst) is made up of epithelial tissues and often contains hair and teeth. In Stephen King's novel The Dark Half, the "absorbed twin" that was removed from the protagonist's brain would most likely be classified as a teratoma in real life.

These tumors are most often found in newborns, children and adolescents, although they may develop later in life. Some people chronically develop these tumors. I knew one woman who had to have several of them removed from various parts of her body over the years; when I first met her, she'd recently had a tumor removed from her arm that she described as looking very much like a curled-up embryo.

Ter`a*to"ma (?), n. [NL., fr. Gr. , , monster + -oma.] Med.

A tumor, sometimes found in newborn children, which is made up of a heterogeneous mixture of tissues, as of bone, cartilage and muscle.

 

© Webster 1913.

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