BACKGROUD: Germ cell tumors (GCTs) are a group of neoplasms usually arising in the gonads, and very rarely in sites outside the gonads, mainly in the retroperitoneum, the anterior mediastinum, and pineal gland or the coccyx (mainly in childhood). The prognosis of nonseminoma primary mediastinal GCTs (PMGCTs), is considered to be poorer compared to its retroperitoneal or gonadal counterparts and, according to the International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative Group, it is considered by definition as a "poor risk" disease.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Our review highlights the clinical features, prognostic factors, and therapeutic strategies in PMGCTs, as described in medical literature. So far available data were obtained through a Medline search of English-language papers.
RESULTS: Due to the rarity of the disease, there are no prospective studies comparing different treatment strategies. For this reason, oncology societies recommend treating PMGCTs like other GCTs, according to general risk categories.
CONCLUSION: Because of the rarity of the disease, poor categorization, and the lack of novel therapeutic strategies, an International database is required to obtain more information on these tumors. Additional efforts should be done, with the aims to find effective novel therapeutic agents.