Metastatic Neuroblastoma

What is Metastatic Neuroblastoma?

Metastatic neuroblastoma is an aggressive and often metastatic form of childhood cancer. It most commonly affects very young children, under the age of 5 years. It is a type of neuroblastoma—a solid tumor of early cell origin that forms from developing nerve cells in various parts of the body. Metastatic neuroblastoma occurs when cancer cells spread from an original tumor to other organs and tissues in the body.

This cancer is commonly found in the abdomen and chest but can spread to other parts of the body including the:

  • bone marrow
  • bone
  • skin
  • lymph nodes
  • liver
  • spleen
  • adrenal glands
  • brain

Metastatic neuroblastoma is often a fast-growing cancer, making it a difficult cancer to treat. Fortunately, there are treatments available which can help prolong life and give patients quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of Metastatic Neuroblastoma

The signs and symptoms of metastatic neuroblastoma will vary depending on where the cancer is located in the body. Common symptoms include:

  • pain and swelling in the affected area
  • bone pain
  • a lump in the abdomen or neck
  • unexplained weight loss
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • high blood pressure

Diagnosing Metastatic Neuroblastoma

To diagnose metastatic neuroblastoma, doctors use a combination of tests. Imaging tests such as CT scans or MRI scans may be used to locate metastatic tumors in the body. Blood tests may also be done to check for high levels of tumor markers, which indicate the presence of neuroblastoma. Doctors may also take tissue samples from the tumor and examine them in the lab.

Treatment for Metastatic Neuroblastoma

Treatment for metastatic neuroblastoma will depend on the size and spread of the tumor. Treatment options may include:

  • surgery to remove the tumor
  • chemotherapy to shrink the tumor
  • radiation therapy to kill tumor cells
  • stem cell transplant to replace damaged cells
  • targeted therapy to reach specific tumor cells
  • immunotherapy to boost the immune system
  • clinical trials

Treatment may also include pain management medication depending on the location of the tumor. It is important to speak with a doctor about the treatment plan that is best for each individual’s circumstances.