SIOPEN

  • International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe Neuroblastoma

 

 

Neuroblastoma is the most common solid cancer in children after brain tumours.

It typically affects young children and is the most common cancer in infants. Neuroblastoma tends to occur in the abdomen or chest, and less commonly in the neck or pelvis. It often develops close to the spine. The cancer arises from neural crest - a particular type of cell which forms various different parts of the body (including the sympathetic nervous system) during fetal development. These cells are normally found along the spine in ganglia (clusters of cells), which are similar in size to lymph nodes (‘glands’), and in the larger adrenal glands which sit above the kidneys and produce stress hormones like adrenaline.

Neuroblastoma has a very varied clinical outcome. Whilst sometimes the disease can resolve entirely without any treatment at all, neuroblastoma typically needs treatment with chemotherapy and surgery. High-risk patients (typically children with widespread disease) will require very intensive treatment including chemotherapy, surgery, high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue, radiotherapy, differentiation therapy and immunotherapy.

Neuroblastoma presents in various ways. Some children develop a large abdomen (tummy) or a swelling in the neck which you can see, but are otherwise well. Other children become ill, pale, sweaty, lose weight and perhaps develop a fever or complain of pain in their legs. The first type of presentation is often where the disease has remained localised. The second type is where the disease has spread and become more generalised. Neuroblastoma usually spreads to bone and bone marrow. Spread to the bones can cause pain, while spread to the bone marrow affects the blood which the bone marrow produces. This leads to risk of infection with fever and a child being pale because of anaemia.

Almost half of children presenting with neuroblastoma already have disease which has spread (metastatic or stage 4 disease). This is not because they have gone to the doctor late, it is because the type of neuroblastoma they have is a type that tends to spread quickly as a result of the particular biology of that tumour.

 

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SIOPEN Verein zur Foderung der Neuroblastomforschung is an Association registered in Austria and recognised as a non-profit organisation according to the Austrian Federal Tax Code (Bundesabgabenordnung BAO). Registration number ZVR 396592912. The SIOPEN Association was officially established on 20 January 2009.

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