Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The twin within: (2) A teratoma

A teratoma is a mass of cells growing in the body - a  benign tumour.  That is, except when it develops in the testis or ovary, when it can become malignant, most commonly in the testis. Cancer specialists know a lot about malignant teratomas.

The medical dictionaries tell us that a teratoma is:

teratoma (ter´tō´m),
n a tumor composed of cells capable of differentiating into any of the three primary germ layers. Teratomas in the ovary are usually benign dermoidal cysts; those in the testis are generally malignant.
Is a teratoma a twin within? Here is what one doctor says:

When a teratoma is surgically removed,  it shows signs of  some development into human form, but not as clearly differentiated as in the fetus in fetu, which we looked at yesterday.

This is the kind of thing you see when you cut a teratoma out of the body and open it up: teeth, hair and maybe a little bone.

The survivors of such surgery do speak about feeling "different" or "lost" after surgery. Even as children the teratoma can be known about -  one womb twin survivor in the USA once told me:

I had an ovarian dermoid cyst (teratoma) removed at age seventeen.  When I was a little girl I used to tell my mother I “had a little man inside of me”.

 There is evidently a lot more to learn about teratomas and the twin within.   If you want to learn more, there is a chapter about the twin within in my new book. 


1 comment:

  1. A young woman I know died after the removal of a teratoma twin, the op was successful but a blood clot killed her she leaves a teenage son how sad.