Neuroblastoma

Also known as: Ganglio Neuroblastoma.

What is neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma is a form of cancer that primarily affects children. Among infants, it ranks as the most common form of cancer. The cancer forms in nerve cells called neuroblasts. It usually occurs in the adrenal glands above the kidneys, but can also start anyway along the nerves in the back.

Upon presentation, many patients already have metastatic disease (disease beyond the primary tumor) that can spread anywhere in the body. More common sites of spreading are bone marrow, bone and liver.

What causes neuroblastoma?

The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown. In some forms of neuroblastoma, a genetic mutation within the cells can cause the disease. Rarely, neuroblastoma may run in families.

What are the symptoms of neuroblastoma?

Symptoms of neuroblastoma are different when the cancer affects different body parts. In the abdomen, symptoms include a lump or mass under the skin, pain, diarrhea or constipation. In the chest, children may have difficulty breathing or chest pain.

When the disease spreads, the symptoms may be fever, weight loss, bone pain, fatigue, loss of appetite or dark circles around the eyes.

What are neuroblastoma care options?

Treatment for neuroblastoma can involve several different modalities intended to rid the body of cancer. Most children will need more than one therapy. They might include chemotherapy along with surgery to remove the tumor.

This is usually followed by stem cell transplant and radiation to remove residual disease. Immunotherapy and other cutting edge therapies have recently become standard of care as well. 


Reviewed by: Kamar Godder, MD

This page was last updated on: December 18, 2020 04:34 PM

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