Neuroblastoma is one of the most common of extracranial cancer found in children and nearly half of the neuroblastoma cases are developed before the age of 2-5 years and is reported in less than 10% of all childhood cancers. It is a cancerous growth that arises in nerve cells known as neuroblasts. It is also known as a neuroendocrine tumor and most often evolves in the nerves of the adrenal glands (the glands that control the sympathetic system) and can also evolve in other parts of the body such as the spine, neck and chest area. Sometimes the disease starts developing before birth and until it is diagnosed, in most cases the disease will already have metastasized itself to other organs, especially the lymph nodes, skin, liver and bone marrow.
Even though symptoms may at first be very obscure of uncover, neuroblastomas are often characterized by:
Symptoms of an enlarged or swollen stomach, slow bowel movements.
Bulging or enlarged eyes sometimes with dark circles around the eyes, sometimes found inside the in the bones around the orbits of the eyes
A child’s difficulty in standing or learning to walk, or crawl is sometimes characterized by the tumor growing on the spinal cord and eventually interfering with the child’s spinal cord development.
Diagnostic detection of the disease is one of the only effective tools for treatment. Your pediatric doctor may at first prescribe a simple blood exam where the blood is tested for anemia, or a blood serology to check for metabolites found in the urine or blood. Another more detailed-oriented inspection of the disease is by an imaging test called meta-iodobenzylguanidine (mIBG scan) posing a reliable detection rate. If there is continued suspicion of the development of the disease, the child may to a biopsy of the tumor as a final prognostic factor for the disease.
Since there are so many factors involved in treating this disease so are the different treatment options. These options are based on the level of advancement of the disease. Surgery is one of the first options for children carrying low-risk neuroblastomas and later be tested for any pathogenesis of the disease. At medium and high-risk levels, your doctor may combine a combination of therapies including surgery and chemotherapy or radiation, as well as novel treatments such as hematopoietic cell transplant, stem cell therapies or nonclonal antibody therapy.