Questions and Answers About Neuroblastoma


 What is neuroblastoma?

It is a disease in which malignant cancer cells are found in certain parts of the peripheral nervous system, since the region of the brain to the spine, thorax and abdomen, are more common in the adrenal glands. The peculiar behavior has Neuroblastoma, presenting spontaneous regression in some cases (with children under 6 months old), and others, is very aggressive, despite treatment. It usually appears in children under 5 years of age.

What are adrenal glands?

The adrenal glands, also known as adrenal glands are located above each kidney in the back of the upper abdomen. Glands are vital for humans, because they have very important functions. They are responsible for producing hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, responsible for defense response to danger and emotional stress, aldosterone, which regulates the salt in the body, cortisol is essential for the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, among other .

The Neuroblastoma most often begins before birth, but is usually found when the tumor takes shape, grow and create the symptoms.

The sooner Neuroblastoma is diagnosed the greater the chances of cure, since the time the cancer spreads most commonly to the lymph nodes, bone marrow, bone, liver and skin.

Signs of a neuroblastoma (symptoms)

* Presence of mass or lump in the abdomen, neck or chest;
* The eyes jump;
* Marches dark around the eyes;
* Pain in the bones;
* Abdomen swollen and breathing difficulties;
* Painful, red lumps on the skin;
Weakness or paralysis (loss of ability to move a body part).

Less common symptoms of neuroblastoma are:

Decreased breath;
* Feeling of tiredness;
* Injuries to the skin without motives and bleeding;
* High blood pressure;
* Strong diarrhea;
* Muscle spasms;
* Uncontrolled movements of the eyes;
* Swollen ankles or feet.

The most common symptoms of neuroblastoma are caused by tumor pressure on nearby tissues as it grows or by cancer that spreads to the bones. The appearance of these symptoms does not necessarily mean neuroblastoma. So it is very important to consult a doctor.

Risk factors

Cause still unknown.

Examinations and tests to diagnose (detect / find) childhood neuroblastoma:

* History and physical examination: examination of the body to check the patient’s general health and check for signs of illness or anything unusual, and a history and health habits of the patient (who has had diseases etc.).
* Urine test for 24 hours: test in which urine is collected for 24 hours to measure the amount of certain substâncias.A unusual amount of a substance (higher or lower than normal) may indicate a disease in the organ or tissue that produces it.
* Cytogenetic analysis: test that analyzes a blood sample from the tumor tissue under a microscope to check for changes in the chromosomes.
* Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is analyzed to measure the amount of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues of the body (if they are higher or lower than normal).
* Aspiration and bone marrow biopsy: The removal of a small piece of bone, blood and bone marrow tissue by introducing a needle into the hip or chest for laboratory analysis and search for abnormal cells.
* Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues of the tumor through a needle inserted through the skin or by a minor surgery to remove a piece of the tumor. The removed portion is examined through a microscope to determine if the tumor is malignant or not, and if so, what type.
* X-Ray: energy beam that takes a picture of internal body and allows to evaluate the state of the organs and bones.
Computed tomography scanning: a method that takes pictures at different angles and with high precision organs and body tissues. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray. There may be a need to swallow or inject a dye into the vein of the patient to help the computer to see more clearly the organs, bones and tissues inside the body. In addition to determining the exact location of the tumor, this test is also able to determine its exact size and extension to other organs.
* Neurological exam: A series of questions and tests to check the status of the brain and spinal nerve function. The test checks the patient’s mental status, coordination, ability to walk normally and how the muscles, senses and reflexes are working.
* Ultrasound: take photographs that internal parts of the body and differentiate normal tissue from a tumor. Harmless to health, this test also can identify which body reaches the tumor.

Not all patients will have to go through these tests and other tests may be needed beyond those presented. If in doubt, ask your doctor.

Factors that influence the chances of recovery and treatment options:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options. The main ones are:

* Age of patient when diagnosed
* Stage of cancer
* Location of the tumor in the body
* Histology of the tumor (form, function and structure of cancer cells)

In neuroblastoma tumor biology also affects the prognosis and is evaluated by the following indicators:

* Patterns of cancer cells
* How different the tumor cells are from normal
* The speed with which tumor cells are growing
* The number of chromosomes in tumor cells
* How many copies of N-myc gene in the tumor are

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  1. One Response to “Questions and Answers About Neuroblastoma”

  2. By Sona on Aug 19, 2012 | Reply

    My cousin Jered was dieanosgd with Acute Lymphatic Lukemia when he was 1 year old. He battled the cancer for three years and won. Now here we are 10 years later and the cancer is back in full force. He’s undergoing Chemo and various other treatments but we aren’t sure how much more time we’ve got with him or if the treatments are working. Please remember all of the kids out there with cancer and keep them in your prayers.

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