Germ cell tumors remain a biologic enigma. Despite improved knowledge of mechanisms for cure, the fundamental understanding of their biology remains incomplete. Extensive data derived from the murine teratoma model provide an intriguing window into teratoma biology although there is controversy regarding the usefulness of this information in the context of human disease. Several social, epidemio logic, and molecular factors that appear to regulate the growth and development of normal and malignant human germ cells have been identified. However, the specific linkages remain to be both biologically and clinically elucidated. It is clear that these tumors are associated with germ cell origins, predominantly young populations, cryptorchidism, infertility, a range of abnormal hormonal factors, multiple atypical nevi, and abnormalities of genetic expression. Whether there is a unifying hypothesis that explains these curiosities remains to be determined.
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