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a neoplasm occurring in man and animals that results from the impaired embryonic development of tissues. Found mainly in children and adolescents, it is localized in the sex glands and occasionally in other organs and parts of the body. A teratoma generally consists of different types of tissue, including connective, epithelial, muscular, and neural tissue, and may include such differentiated derivatives of these tissues as teeth and hair.
The most complex teratomas in terms of composition and structure are those that have developed from early blastomeres or from primary sex cells that are totipotential, or able to develop into any type of body tissue. Teratomas that arise at later stages of embryonic development (after gastrulation) are limited in composition by the formative potential of the embryonic germ layer or organ from which the teratomas originate. Simple, relatively benign teratomas are distinguished from teratoblastomas— malignant tumors composed of tissues of embryonic structure and lacking a tendency to differentiate. Simple teratomas are also distinguished from teratoids—developmental defects that are not tumors but that may develop into tumors. Teratomas may become carcinomas or sarcomas.