Neuroblastoma - Dream Health

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Neuroblastoma


Neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma – Rare Cancer Affecting Young Children 

Neuroblastoma is a type of rare cancer which affects mostly young children and develops from nerve cells known as neuroblasts. The term neuro refers to nerves and blastoma refers to cancer which affects immature or developing cells. These cells are found in a chain the run down the back of the chest and stomach and in several cases; it tends to develop in the adrenal glands, the two small glands above the kidneys and could spread to various other areas like the bones, skin and liver. .

This kind of cancers occurs often in infants and young children and is rarely found in children older than ten years. The cause of this condition is unknown and there are some rare cases where the children in the same family tend to get affected though it does not run in families. Symptoms would depend on where the cancer is located and whether it has spread to other areas in the body. It is often difficult to diagnose neuroblastoma in its initial stage as the symptoms are common like aches and pain with loss of energy and appetite. A late sign is a lump or swelling in the abdomen since this is where the cancer usually begins and could be missed out in a young child. The lump could cause constipation as well as difficulty in passing urine and is accompanied with pain and discomfort.

Symptoms and Signs 

Besides this, other symptoms could include lump in the neck, pale skin, bruising, bleeding with frequent infection, if the cancer has reached the bone marrow, bone pain with difficulty in walking if the bones are affected, numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the lower region of the body if the cancer has affected the spinal cord and bluish lumps on the skin and appearance of black eyes.

Test may include urine analysis test for certain chemicals found in the urine which could produce neuroblastoma cells, scans of various areas to look for affected parts of cancer like ultrasound scans, computerised tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging scans. A special kind of scan which involves an injection of a substance is taken up by neuroblastoma cells in any area of the body known as mIBG scan. A biopsy also enables the cancer to be identified wherein the sample is removed under general anaesthesia, using a special needle.

Different Stages of Neuroblastoma 

Neuroblastoma is defined by stages as with most cancer cases which reflect the spread of the condition and in stages 1 and 2- L1, the cancer is in one site and has not spread. Stage 3 - L2, the cancer has reached local structures though not to the distant parts of the body, while stage 4 – M, the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.

Stage 4s – Ms, is a special stage for tumours diagnosed in babies under the age of twelve months though it could spread to other areas of the body and the outlook is good since it can get better on its own.Based on the stage of infection, chemotherapy is given in order to shrink the tumour before it can surgically be removed and in some cases followed by radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

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