NEUROBLASTOMA is a solid cancerous tumor that begins in the nerve cells outside the brain of infants and young children. It can start in the nerve tissue near the spine in the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis, but it most often begins in the adrenal glands that are located on top of both kidneys. These glands make hormones that help control body functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Neuroblasts are immature nerve cells found in unborn babies. Normal neuroblasts mature into nerve cells or adrenal medulla cells that are found in the center of the adrenal gland. Neuroblastoma forms when neuroblasts don’t mature properly.
Neuroblastoma develops most often in infants and children younger than 5 and occurs more often in boys than in girls.
So far, no environmental factors have been shown to increase the risk of developing neuroblastoma. Rarely, more than one member of a family is diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Many symptoms of neuroblastoma are caused by pressure from the tumor or bone pain if the cancer has spread to the bones. Bone pain may cause the child to limp, refuse to walk, or become unable to walk. Other symptoms may include:
- A lump or mass in the abdomen, chest, neck, or pelvis
- Skin lesions or nodules under the skin with blue or purple patches
- Changes in the eyes, such as black eyes, a droopy eyelid, a pupil that is constricted, vision problems, or changes in the color of the iris
- Pain in the chest, difficulty breathing, or a persistent cough
- Pain in the arms, legs, or other bones
- Pain in the back, or weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the legs
- Fever and anemia
- Constant diarrhea or high blood pressure
- Rotating movements of the eyes and sudden muscle jerks
For the Institute of Interventional Oncology (IDOI México) it is important to remind you that sometimes, children with neuroblastoma do not have any of these changes or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition.
If you are concerned about any changes your child experiences, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your doctor will help you to figure out the cause of the problem.