Gonadoblastoma Clinical Presentation

Updated: Apr 19, 2021
  • Author: Joseph L Lasky, III, MD; Chief Editor: Max J Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Any history of abnormal genitourinary anatomy at the time of delivery is most helpful in identifying patients with an intersex disorder who are at risk of developing gonadoblastoma.

If the diagnosis is not established in the neonatal period, the most pertinent findings in the medical history are the individual's age, physical examination findings, mental developmental history, and family history. Obtain any history of maternal exposure to androgens, drugs, alcohol, or illness during the first trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, obtain a thorough family history regarding any existence of genital ambiguity, infertility, or amenorrhea because some evidence suggests that a hereditary component has a role in intersex disorders. A family history can also be useful for screening purposes because a number of reports have documented the occurrence of gonadoblastoma and/or dysgerminoma in siblings of patients with male pseudohermaphrodism (46,XY) or in individuals with mixed gonadal dysgenesis (45,X/46,XY).

In the patient history, a symptom of primary amenorrhea is often the first clue to the diagnosis of an intersex disorder. Additionally, any developmental delay of the genitalia or secondary sexual characteristics should also initiate a prompt search for an intersex abnormality with a karyotype analysis. Troche and Hernandez (1986) found that approximately 10% of patients younger than 10 years with dysgenic gonads already had a gonadoblastoma or a dysgerminoma. [17] The study further underscored the importance of karyotype analysis in patients with primary or secondary amenorrhea and abnormal sexual development.

In Turner syndrome, persistence of infantile external genitalia and/or developmental delays can often be elicited from a medical history. Most of these individuals never have menstruated and have primary amenorrhea; however, exceptions are recognized, and, in 10% of women with Turner syndrome, puberty, menarche, and (rarely) pregnancy may occur.


Physical Examination

In patients at risk of developing gonadoblastoma, the tumor can frequently be diagnosed at birth by performing a careful physical examination. The unique abnormal physical findings of intersex syndromes are characteristic and can be easily detected by examining the genitalia.

However, infants with pure forms of an intersex disorder can appear completely normal on the physical examination, and these disorders are difficult to diagnose in the neonatal period. These individuals are more frequently discovered after puberty when abnormalities become more apparent with subtle developmental delays.

In addition to the genitourinary examination, a full physical examination is important to detect any gross abnormalities that can occur when gonadoblastoma transforms into a malignant dysgerminoma/seminoma and metastasizes. For example, a palpable abdominal mass can be found in approximately 50% of patients with metastatic disease.

In females with a normal phenotype but with virilizing features (eg, clitoromegaly, abnormal hirsutism) and in all phenotypic males with undescended testis and hypospadiac urethra, obtain a karyotype analysis to exclude an intersex disorder.

Other important physical findings include phallic size, the existence of an inguinal hernia, and the presence of a uterus on the bimanual examination. In the first few days of life, the maternal stimulatory effects of placental human chorionic gonadotropin facilitate the search for a uterus.

The diagnosis of complete androgen insensitivity/male pseudohermaphroditism (46,XY) can be difficult in the neonate period; sometimes, the only clue to suggest the diagnosis is an inguinal hernia in these females who display a normal phenotype. Newborn girls with inguinal hernias have a 1.6% incidence of being male pseudohermaphrodites (46,XY) and should undergo a prompt karyotype analysis.

Gonadoblastoma that is not identified in neonates is not usually diagnosed until after patients begin puberty when they present with primary amenorrhea. These teenagers have normal breast development, but secondary sexual characteristics are abnormal, with a complete absence of genital and axillary hair growth and a short and hypoplastic vagina.

Patients with an incomplete or partial form of androgen insensitivity present with numerous variations of genital ambiguity, and, unlike patients with a pure form of androgen insensitivity/male pseudohermaphrodism (46,XY), these individuals receive the diagnosis soon after birth. The initial genitourinary examination reveals obvious abnormalities at birth. The physical examination findings are unpredictable and hard to interpret. A careful examination of the scrotum, labia, or the presence of an inguinal hernia often demonstrates gonadal tissue and leads to a karyotype analysis that establishes the individual's genotype and helps to characterize the intersex disorder.

Patients with Turner syndrome (45,XO) typically present with short stature, a short webbed neck, widely spaced nipples, sparse pubic and axillary hair distribution, and infantile genitalia. Their skin is thick from lymphedema, and many nevi are present. The head and neck examination demonstrates a low hairline with low-set ears and hearing that is frequently impaired.

The physical examination of patients with mixed gonadal dysgenesis (45,X/46,XY) is noteworthy for ambiguous genitalia with varying degrees of phallic enlargement, undescended testis, and a urogenital sinus with labioscrotal fusion. Nearly all of these patients have a uterus, vagina, and fallopian tubes in addition to an ovary/streak and a contralateral testicle. One half of these patients are short, and one third can appear similar to individuals with Turner syndrome.