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Neuroblastoma

lizzy136's picture
lizzy136
Posts: 13
Joined: May 2010

Why is Neuroblastoma such a common cancer for children ages newborn to seven?

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HeartofSoul
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system. It accounts for 5%-7% of all childhood malignancies; about 1 in 6000 children will be diagnosed with neuroblastoma by the age of five. Neuroblastoma is a solid, malignant tumor which manifests as a lump or mass in the abdomen or around the spinal cord. Treatment will be determined by many factors, including the stage of the disease at diagnosis and your child's age. Neuroblastoma is often present at birth, but is most often diagnosed much later when the child begins to show symptoms of the disease. The average age at diagnosis is two. About 25% of newly diagnosed neuroblastomas are found in children under the age of one. This age group has the best prognosis, with cure rates as high as 90%. It is not yet known why children under the age of one do so much better.

Neuroblastoma begins in neuroblasts — immature nerve cells that a fetus makes as part of its development process in the womb. As the fetus matures, neuroblasts eventually turn into nerve cells and fibers and the cells that make up the adrenal glands. The majority of neuroblasts mature by birth, though studies have found a small number of immature neuroblasts in newborns. In most cases, these neuroblasts will mature or disappear. Others, however, form a tumor — a neuroblastoma.

It isn't clear what causes the initial genetic mutation that leads to neuroblastoma. However, because neuroblastoma usually affects very young children, researchers believe the mutation occurs during pregnancy, or possibly even before conception.

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