Alpha-fetoprotein levels correlate with the pathologic grade and surgical outcomes of pediatric retroperitoneal teratomas

Catherine Jane Hunter, Henri R. Ford, Joaquin J. Estrada, James E. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: Retroperitoneal teratomas (RTs) are rare neoplasms that comprise 2-5% of all pediatric teratomas and 10% of all pediatric retroperitoneal tumors. Although alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a recognized tumor marker for immature teratomas, its prognostic value in neonates and children with RTs is unknown due to physiologic elevation of this marker. The aim of this study was to determine whether AFP level correlates with pathologic grade of pediatric RT and patient outcome. Methods: A retrospective analysis of all RTs seen at our institution over a 20-year period was performed. Thirteen patients with RTs were identified; their AFP levels were correlated with tumor grade, patient age, and outcome. Results: Twelve patients were less than 1 year of age at diagnosis. There were nine patients with immature, and four with mature RTs. All patients with mature RTs had AFP levels within the normal range, while eight out of nine patients with immature RTs had elevated AFP levels. A statistically significant elevation in AFP was noted in grade III RTs compared with mature RTs (P = 0.036), regardless of age. Major complications including vascular injury, sepsis, and death were more prevalent in high-grade RTs. Conclusion: We conclude that AFP levels correlate with tumor immaturity and predict operative morbidity even in patients less than 2 months of age. Despite the increased morbidity associated with surgical excision of high-grade RTs, complete resection results in long-term disease-free survival in the majority of infants with this rare pediatric neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-336
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Surgery International
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Alpha-fetoprotein
  • Pediatric tumor
  • Retroperitoneal teratoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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