Neuroblastoma is an abnormal accumulation of nerve cells that usually arises in and around the adrenal glands. This cancer develops from immature nerve cells that a fetus makes as part of its development process and naturally matures and disappears. Tumors may grow in any part of the body where group of nerve cells exist (in the abdomen, chest, and neck and near the spine). This type of cancer is more common to children age 5 or younger.

Symptoms of Neuroblastoma depend on the part where the tumor arises.

  • Neuroblastoma in the abdomen — the most common form — may cause signs and symptoms such as:
    • Abdominal Pain
    • A Hard Mass under the Skin
    • Diarrhea and/or Constipation
  • Neuroblastoma in the chest may cause signs and symptoms such as:
    • Wheezing
    • Chest Pain
    • Changes to the Eyes, including Drooping Eyelids and Unequal Pupil Size

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Lumps of tissue under the skin
  • Proptosis or Eyeballs that seem to Protrude from the Sockets
  • Dark circles, Similar to Bruises, Around the Eyes
  • Fever
  • Bone Pain
  • Back pain
  • Unexplained Weight Loss


To diagnose Neuroblastoma, the doctor might perform the following:

  • Physical Exam – The doctor will check for signs and symptoms that may indicate cancer. He or she will also ask questions about the child’s habits and behaviors.
  • Imaging Tests- This would help shown if there are any tumors in the body.
  • Urine and Blood Tests – These tests may reveal the cause of the symptoms. The presence of certain chemicals in high levels can indicate the production of Neuroblastoma.
  • Biopsy –Removing of sample tissue for laboratory testing may give specific information about the tumor. A bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration procedures may also be used to see if neuroblastoma has spread to the bone marrow.

After the Neuroblastoma has been diagnosed, the doctor will now identify the stage of the cancer.

  • Stage 1 – The cancer is confined to one area. This can be completely removed by a surgery.
  • Stage 2A -The cancer is confined to one area but cannot be easily removed by surgery.
  • Stage 2B – The cancer cells may or may not be easily removed through surgery. Although the location of the tumors are contain in one area only, the lymph nodes connected to the tumor and the lymph nodes nearby may already have been affected by the cancer cells.
  • Stage 3 – Neuroblastoma at this stage is considered advanced. The tumor may be larger and isn’t possible to remove through surgery although Lymph nodes may or may not contain cancer cells.
  • Stage 4 –The cancer cells has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Stage 4S – This special category applies only to children younger than 1 year old. This indicates that the cancer has spread to another part of the body most commonly the skin, liver or limited bone marrow involvement. Despite the extent of Neuroblastoma, babies with this stage have a good chance of recovery because Neuroblastoma at this stage sometimes goes away on its own and often doesn’t require any treatment.



Treatment may include the following:

  • Surgery – This means making an opening in a certain body part to remove the tumor. However, it may only be applied to early stages of Neuroblastoma where the tumor is small in size and is not attached to nearby vital organs.
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses chemicals to destroy cancer cells. However, it may have side effects such as falling hair and weakness.
  • Radiation Therapy – This uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
  • Stem Cell Therapy –It is usually done after chemotherapy to help the body form new and healthy blood cells. This process uses the child’s own blood that has been filtered and collected.
  • Immunotherapy – It uses drugs that stimulate and boost the immune system to fight and kill cancer cells.

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