Teratomas and Dermoid Cysts | Tampa General Hospital

Teratomas and Dermoid Cysts 

Teratomas (referred to as dermoid cysts when they occur at birth) are mature growths within the body that can contain developed tissues. 

Teratomas are rare forms of growths within the body that can contain fluid and developed tissues, including teeth, hair, muscle tissue, glands and bone. They can be present in individuals of all ages, but are more commonly found in females. A mature cystic teratoma that forms before birth is also called a dermoid cyst, and these growths can develop anywhere in the body.  
Teratomas can be cystic, solid or mixed depending on the makeup of the growth. Common types of teratomas include ovarian, periorbital and spinal.  

What Are the Causes of Teratomas & Dermoid Cysts? 

Teratomas and dermoid cysts are caused by complications that occur during the body’s growth process and originate in the germ cells that exist in early stages of human development. Germ cells eventually become gametes, which are eggs in women and sperm in men. Specific types of dermoid cysts may also be caused by certain conditions, such as spinal dysraphism. Rare cases of teratomas may be caused by the presence of an undeveloped twin within the womb that is then encompassed by the surviving twin. 

Symptoms of Teratomas & Dermoid Cysts 

While some forms of teratomas and dermoid cysts produce no symptoms, others may show signs that can be visible or felt during a physical examination. Signs that a cyst or teratoma may be present can include: 

  • Swollen lumps near the surface of the skin that may be uncomfortable or yellowish in color 
  • Pelvic pain (may be more pronounced around the time of a menstrual period) 
  • Tingling in the arms and legs  
  • A firm mass that can be felt through the skin 

Diagnosing Teratomas & Dermoid Cysts 

Doctors can diagnose teratomas and dermoid cysts in different ways depending on the location of the growth. Some ways in which teratomas and dermoid cysts may be discovered and diagnosed include: 

  • Physical examinations 
  • Imaging scans including a CT scan, ultrasound or X-ray 
  • Gynecological exams 
  • Testicular exams 
  • Blood tests to check for elevated hormones 

How Are Teratomas & Dermoid Cysts Treated? 

The treatment for teratomas and dermoid cysts depends on when the growths are discovered and diagnosed. Pregnancies that involve teratomas or dermoid cysts will be closely monitored by a doctor, while those discovered at any time after birth may be treated through surgical (such as a laparoscopy) or medical means.  

While teratomas and dermoid cysts are usually benign, it is always best to get a professional opinion from a doctor. The healthcare professionals at Tampa General Hospital expertly recognize the signs of teratomas and dermoid cysts and develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.