Causative and risk factors
The exact cause of neuroblastoma is unknown. It is more common in age group below 5 years.
The symptoms of neuroblastoma will vary depending upon which body part is involved. When the abdomen is involved, the child will suffer from abdominal pain and altered bowel habit. A lump may be felt in the abdomen and the child develops swelling on the feet.
When the chest is involved, the child may have chest pain and wheezing. Changes can be observed in the pupils, causing an unequal appearance or drooping eye lids.
Other symptoms produced by a neuroblastoma include presence of painless lumps on any body part, dark circles around the eyes, proptosis, fever, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Pain may be felt in the back or bones. The child may sweat profusely and have a rapid pulse. Breathing may become difficult. Sometimes paralysis of a body part may occur.
Following a physical examination, routine blood and urine tests are performed. This is followed by imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT or MRI scans. Biopsy of the lumps of tissue can be done. Bone marrow biopsy can be done if metastasis is suspected.
Treatment depends upon the location of the tumor, extent of spread and age and overall fitness of the patient.
In most cases surgery to remove the tumor is adequate. Advanced cases may require chemotherapy and radiotherapy.