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Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor. It grows in nerve tissue of babies and young children. The cancer cells grow in young nerve cells of a baby growing in the womb. These cells are called neuroblasts. It’s is the most common cancer in babies under age 1. It’s rare in children older than age 10.
In most cases, neuroblastoma starts in the adrenal glands or the nerve fibers in the abdomen. Other common places for it to grow include the nerve fibers near the spine in the chest, neck, or lower belly (pelvis).
The symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the tumor and if it has spread. Symptoms can also occur a bit differently in each child.
Symptoms of a tumor in the belly (abdomen) can include:
Symptoms of a tumor in the chest can include:
Symptoms of a neuroblastoma that has spread to other parts of the body can include:
A neuroblastoma may release hormones. This is called paraneoplastic syndrome. It can cause symptoms such as:
A neuroblastoma can also cause opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia syndrome. This can lead to symptoms such as:
The symptoms of neuroblastoma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
You may take your child to the healthcare provider because of a lump, swelling, or other symptoms. Most of the time, neuroblastoma has spread by the time it is diagnosed. Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's medical history and symptoms. He or she will examine your child. Your child may be referred to a specialist in diagnosing and treating cancer in children (pediatric oncologist).Your child may have tests such as:
Part of diagnosing cancer is called staging. Staging is the process of seeing if the cancer has spread, and where it has spread. Staging also helps to decide the treatment. There are different ways of staging used for neuroblastoma. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the stage of your child's cancer. One method of staging neuroblastoma is the following:
Treatment will depend on the stage and other factors. The cancer can be treated with any of the below:
With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep in mind:
A child may have complications from the tumor or from treatment, such as:
A child with a neuroblastoma needs ongoing care. Your child will be seen by oncologists and other healthcare providers to treat any late effects of treatment and to watch for signs or symptoms of the tumor returning. Your child will be checked with imaging tests and other tests. And your child may see other healthcare providers for problems from the tumor or from treatment. Your child may need therapy to help with movement and muscle strength. This may be done by physical and occupational therapists.
You can help your child manage his or her treatment in many ways. For example:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.