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is a type of cancer that causes developing nerve cells to become tumors. The tumors usually develop in glands near the kidneys called adrenal glands. Tumors may develop along your child's spine, or in his abdomen, chest, neck, or pelvis. A tumor may start in one place and metastasize (spread) to another. Neuroblastoma usually affects children younger than 5 years but can affect children up to 10 years old. The cause is not known. Your child may have an increased risk if other members of his family had neuroblastoma.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • A lump or swollen area in the abdomen or neck
  • Abdominal pain, no appetite, weight loss, or vomiting
  • Swelling in the face, neck, or chest
  • Chest pain along with a cough or wheezing
  • Bone pain
  • Drooping eyelid, small pupils, or dark circles under his eyes
  • Swollen legs or a swollen scrotum (boys)
  • Problems urinating or having a bowel movement
  • Trouble moving his arms or legs

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has severe watery diarrhea or a swollen abdomen.
  • Your child has muscle weakness or trouble moving his arms or legs.
  • Your child's eyes are moving quickly, and he has muscle twitches.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has new or worsening pain that does not get better with pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for neuroblastoma:

Neuroblastoma sometimes goes away on its own. If your child needs treatment, he may need more than one of the following:

  • Surgery is used to remove the tumor. Your child may need more than one surgery if the cancer spread to other parts of his body.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation may be used to kill the cancer cells. Radiation may also be used to shrink the tumor so it will be easier to remove during surgery later.
  • Immunotherapy is medicine given to help your child's immune system fight the cancer.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Have your child rest often. He may be more tired than usual.
  • Give your child pain medicine as directed. Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to give this medicine safely. Your child's healthcare provider may suggest NSAIDs to help decrease swelling, pain, or fever. These medicines are available without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to your child. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child will need to have tests and physical examinations for several years. Healthcare providers will check your child for cancer that has spread, returned, or gotten worse over time. They will also check your child for developmental delays and nerve problems. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Neuroblastoma (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.