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A brief on Neuroblastoma

Apr 03, 2017

A brief on Neuroblastoma

Most commonly known to occur in children, neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that affects certain nerve cells called as neural crest cells in the body. Neural crest cells are types of stem cells found in an embryo or a fetus that later on go on to develop to form the nervous system. Neuroblastoma is rarely seen in children above the age of ten. Most neuroblastomas develop in the adrenal glands mostly in the abdomen. They can also develop in the neck, chest or the spinal cord.

Though not yet confirmed, the main cause of neuroblastoma is thought to be genetic mutations. These genetic mutations are passed on by the parents to the child and the cancer starts developing when the child is inits mother’s womb. Any other causative factors are presently unknown. There are several risk factors that can lead to genetic mutations in the embryo, for instance, smoking and consumption of alcohol or drugs by the mother during pregnancy.

The symptoms of neuroblastoma in its early stage are often mild and hence go unnoticed till the cancer has progressed to a later stage. The kind of symptoms exhibited depends mainly on the location of neuroblastoma. They include:

  • Abdominal lumps
  • Presence of lumps in the neck or the chest
  • Bulging of eyes
  • Painful joints and bones
  • Breathing problems or short breaths
  • Swelling on the stomach
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Partial paralysis of the limbs
  • Presence of lumps under the skin
  • Constant fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Severe form of diarrhea
  • Uncontrolled movements of eyes
  • Muscle spasms

The treatment of neuroblastoma mainly depends on the stage of the cancer and the location. The most commonly used methods are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

  1. Surgery: surgery is a method where the tumor is attempted to remove partially or completely. This can be easily done in the early stages of the disease, when the cancer has not spread to the other parts of the body.
  2. Radiation therapy: this method is used to target and kill the cancerous cells via a beam of radiation.
  3. Chemotherapy: chemotherapy is the usage of drugs, cancer-killing drugs, which would go and kill the cancer cells present in the body.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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