Neuroblastoma is a rare, cancerous tumor that usually occurs in children under age five. This tumor may begin before birth. It is often found during infancy. The tumor typically develops in nerve tissue near the adrenal glands. These glands are located above the kidneys. This type of tumor may also develop in the abdomen, chest, neck, or spinal cord.
The tumor begins in the neural crest cells. These cells are part of the nervous system. It is not known exactly why the tumor develops. A chromosomal mutation may be associated with this condition.
Risk factors include:
Depending on the location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread, symptoms may include:
These symptoms may be caused by another condition. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
The cancer can spread to the liver, lungs, and bones. Early detection is key to a good prognosis.
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
Surgery may be done to remove the tumor.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body, killing mostly cancer cells. With radiation therapy, radiation is directed at the tumor to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used if the cancer has spread.
During this type of transplant, bone marrow is removed, treated, and frozen. Large doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are applied to kill the cancer cells. After treatment, the bone marrow is replaced via a vein. Transplanted bone marrow may be your child’s own bone marrow that was treated or it may be marrow from a healthy donor.
While it is not known why, in some cases, neuroblastoma goes away on its own.
Since the exact cause is unknown, there is no way to prevent this type of tumor from forming.
National Cancer Institute
The Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Childhood Cancer Foundation
DynaMed Editorial Team. Neuroblastoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 24, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2010.
Nemours Foundation, Kids Health. Neuroblastoma. Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/cancer/neuroblastoma.html . Accessed June 29, 2010.
Schub T, Pravikoff D. Neuroblastoma. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=16&topicID=860 . Published January 15, 2010. Accessed date July 22, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 06/06/2012