Diseases

Neuroblastoma

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The neuroblastoma is the second most common childhood cancer. It is formed by nerve cells and is usually located on the spine or in the adrenals. Complaints often do not exist or are unspecific. A neuroblastoma can be operated on, irradiated and treated with chemotherapeutic agents. Even after complete removal he returns to some children. Here you read everything important about the neuroblastoma.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. D43C71D33ArtikelübersichtNeuroblastom

  • Neuroblastoma: description
  • Neuroblastoma: symptoms
  • Neuroblastoma: causes and risk factors
  • Neuroblastoma: examinations and diagnosis
  • Neuroblastoma: treatment
  • Neuroblastoma: disease course and prognosis

Neuroblastoma: description

Neuroblastoma is the second most common childhood cancer in Germany. It is a tumor of the so-called sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary tasks in the body. For example, it controls cardiovascular function, bladder and intestinal activity and energy metabolism. The sympathetic nervous system ensures that our body functions optimally in stressful situations. Since it occurs in many parts of the body, a neuroblastoma can also form in very different places:

In about half of the cases there is a neuroblastoma in the adrenal medulla. In addition, it often occurs in the nerve plexuses right and left of the spine, the limiting strand - most often at the level of the stomach, but sometimes at the level of the neck, chest or pelvis.

In the brain, on the other hand, neuroblastoma occurs only when cells separate from the original tumor, enter the brain and form secondary tumors (metastases) there. But that rarely happens. Also, settlements in the lungs are not very common. Neuroblastoma metastases are typically found in bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, liver or skin. About half of all neuroblastomas have already been diagnosed.

Depending on the severity, neuroblastoma diseases are divided into four disease states. It takes into account how large the tumor is, whether it has spread and whether lymph nodes are affected. It is also estimated to what extent the tumor can be surgically removed. Both the therapy and the prognosis of the disease depend on this classification.

Neuroblastoma: frequency

The neuroblastoma is formed from immature (embryonic) cells. Therefore, the disease occurs primarily in early childhood. About one in every 100,000 children gets neuroblastoma every year. About 40 percent of them fall ill in their first year of life. 90 percent of affected children are younger than six years old. With age, the likelihood of developing a neuroblastoma decreases. Nevertheless, older children, adolescents and adults can get sick. Overall, boys are slightly more affected than girls.

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Neuroblastoma: symptoms

Neuroblastoma does not always cause symptoms. Often, therefore, the tumor is discovered only by accident, for example as part of a routine examination at the pediatrician. If a neuroblastoma causes symptoms, the cancer is already well advanced in many cases. Discomfort then arises, for example, in that the tumor narrows surrounding structures or impairs organ functions through metastases. Since a neuroblastoma can grow in many places in the body, also the symptoms vary.

A tumor in the ribcage can cause distress. In the abdomen, a neuroblastoma can hinder the flow of urine and, in extreme cases, damage the kidneys (hydronephrosis). If the neuroblastoma grows along the marginal cord along the spine, it can displace the nerve roots and cause paralysis. A tumor in the neck area can lead to the so-called Horner syndrome. An eyelid hangs down, the eyeball falls back and the pupil narrows. Almost every fifth child with a neuroblastoma develops a Horner syndrome.

Patients with an already metastatic neuroblastoma often suffer from general symptoms such as pain, an impaired general condition, fever or paleness. Metastases in the eyeball sometimes cause bruising on the eye (monocular or glandular hematoma). In less than two percent of those affected, a neuroblastoma is manifested by a so-called opio-myoclonus syndrome. The patients involuntarily twitch their eyes, arms and legs.

Also listlessness or increased sweating may be due to a neuroblastoma. If the tumor is affected by lymph nodes, it is sometimes possible to palpate small nodules or swellings in the abdomen or neck. Infants often have a distended stomach, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Sometimes the blood pressure also increases due to the tumor.

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