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Quick Facts

Neuroblastoma

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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What is neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that grows in immature nerve cells in various parts of the body. Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer in babies, and one of the most common in young children.

What causes neuroblastoma?

Most of the time, doctors don't know why children develop a neuroblastoma. Rarely, a baby inherits an abnormal gene that causes neuroblastoma.

What are the symptoms of neuroblastoma?

The symptoms of neuroblastoma depend on where the cancer starts and if it has spread.

If neuroblastoma starts in your child's belly, symptoms include:

  • A large belly

  • Feeling of being full

  • Belly pain

If neuroblastoma starts in your child's chest, symptoms include:

  • Cough

  • Trouble breathing

Your child may have other symptoms if the neuroblastoma has spread to other parts of the body:

  • Bones: Pain in the bones, weakness and tiredness, pale skin, bruising

  • Skin: Lumps on the skin

  • Spinal cord: Weak arms and/or legs

Many of these are also the symptoms of more common health problems in children.

How can doctors tell if my child has neuroblastoma?

Sometimes doctors suspect neuroblastoma after seeing a tumor on an ultrasound during pregnancy. Sometimes doctors feel a lump in your child's belly during a doctor visit. To know for sure if your child has neuroblastoma, doctors will:

  • Do a CT scan or MRI of the belly

  • Take a tissue sample of the tumor to look at under a microscope (called a biopsy)

  • Do urine tests to look for substances produced by the tumor

If your child has neuroblastoma, doctors will do more tests to see if the cancer has spread, including:

How do doctors treat neuroblastoma?

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