What is Neuroblastoma ?

If you are hearing the word Neuroblastoma for the first time, you can rest assured you are not alone.  We had never heard of Neuroblastoma until the Dr's came in and said, your son has a softball sized tumor in his abdomen, we believe it may be....

If you are looking for more information chances are that is because your child has recently been diagnosed or you have a friend, family member or acquaintance whose child was recently diagnosed or you've come across our website and want to know more.  Regardless we welcome you and will do our best to provide the most current information available.

So what is Neuroblastoma??    

The truth...Neuroblastoma is a monster! 

By definition it is is a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, a nerve network throughout the body that carries messages from the brain.  Neuroblastoma almost always occurs in infants and young children. Neuroblastoma is a solid, malignant tumor that manifests as a lump or mass in the abdomen, usually on or near the adrenal glad or around the spinal cord, in the chest, neck, or pelvis. Neuroblastoma is often present at birth, but is most often diagnosed much later when the child begins to show symptoms of the disease. It's actually the most common type of cancer in infants, but it's still rare enough that many doctors (pediatricians) have never cared for a child with neuroblastoma.

In the majority of cases, neuroblastoma has already spread to areas outside of the original site at the time of diagnosis.

The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown, but most physicians believe that it is an accidental growth that occurs during normal development of the sympathetic nervous system.

In a few cases, the tendency to get this type of cancer can be passed down from a parent to a child (familial type), but most cases of neuroblastoma (98%) aren't inherited (sporadic type). It occurs almost exclusively in infants and children and is slightly more common in boys than in girls.

Children diagnosed with neuroblastoma are usually younger than 5 years old, with the majority of new cases occurring among those younger than 1 year old. Only about 700 new cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each year in the United States. 


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Neuroblastoma can be hard to recognize.  Most present themselves long after the child has developed the disease and it starts to pose a problem or affect other areas of the body. 

As the disease progresses, symptoms will depend on the location of the tumor.

  • A tumor in the abdomen may cause a swollen belly, stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea, loss of appetite or ability to eat as much as before, moaning, sweating 
  • A tumor in the chest may cause breathing problems.
  • Tumors pressing on the spinal cord may cause weakness or difficulty to crawl or walk.
  • Some children experience bone pain, limping, stop walking or using the arm or leg they are experiencing pain in and some may have unexplained "black eyes", bulging eyes or red rings around the lids (like tired eyes).

Many of these symptoms are similar to those of other more common illnesses. 



** In our case, Daxton started to present the signs of having his first cold, clear runny nose, low grade fever, loss of interest in people food but  we noticed he also seemed to have a swollen abdomen and one of his testicles swelled then went away and a few days later swelled again.  He literally went from being an extremely healthy, happy, active child to a cranky, uncomfortable one in a matter of weeks.  It took two visits to the ER before they found the mass, as most Dr's go on symptoms and work from there - unfortunately many of the symptoms are very similar to "normal" childhood ailments, which is why this disease is so hard to diagnose.

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