How are cystic teratomas differentiated from dermoids?

Updated: Nov 22, 2019
  • Author: Chad A Hamilton, MD; Chief Editor: Yukio Sonoda, MD  more...
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Answer

Inconsistent nomenclature often confuses discussions of various subtypes of teratomas. The word is derived from the Greek teras, meaning monster, which Virchow coined in the first edition of his book on tumors, published in 1863. [3]

In 1831, Leblanc coined the term dermoid cyst in the veterinary literature when he removed a lesion that resembled skin at the base of a horse's skull, which he called a “kyste dermoid.” [4] Both dermoid and teratoma, terms now more than a century old, remain in general use and often are used interchangeably, with various preferences among subspecialties. The earliest implications were that elements similar to skin and its appendages comprised dermoids, while teratomas had no such limits. Dermoids now are recognized as often being trigerminal and containing practically any type of tissue.

For those who continue to make a distinction, dermoids are tumors that maintain rather orderly arrangements, with well-differentiated ectodermal and mesodermal tissues surrounding endodermal components. Teratomas, specifically solid teratomas, are essentially devoid of organization; thus, the presence of some degree of organization, a high degree of cellular differentiation, and cystic structure differentiates dermoids from teratomas. [3]


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