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Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a tumor in the nervous system. Neuroblastoma probably occurs as a result of a developmental fault during the application of the organs during pregnancy. That is why we also call this form 'embryonic' tumors. In the Netherlands, approximately 25 children develop neuroblastoma every year. Most children are under six years of age. In most children the tumor is in the abdomen, in some it is in the thoracic cavity, the neck or the pelvis.

Symptoms of this disease

Symptoms caused by neuroblastoma massively depend on the location of the tumor. A neuroblastoma in the abdomen can cause a swollen abdomen, sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain and nausea. If the neuroblastoma is in the nerve canal of the spine, this may result in paralysis symptoms, such as poorer walking or difficulties with passing feces or urinating. A neuroblastoma in the neck causes swelling and sometimes a hanging eyelid. As the tumor produces adrenaline-like substances, some children suffer from high blood pressure, excessive sweating and diarrhea. Any metastases can also give rise to complaints.

 
How do we make the diagnosis?

Neuroblastoma can be easily detected by examining urine.

 
Treatment of neuroblastoma

The treatment required depends very much on the phase in which the tumor is located. Approximately half of the children have a local tumor. The other half has a tumor with metastases. The treatment often consists of a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, an MIBG treatment and surgery.

An MIBG treatment is radiation for a specific tumor. Children with metastases undergo a high dose of chemotherapy by means of their own blood stem cell reinfusion. Children with high-risk neuroblastoma who are tumor-free or almost tumor-free after the return of their stem cells are eligible for immunotherapy. Immunotherapy encourages the child's immune system to destroy cancer cells. This type of treatment has also been performed in the Princess Máxima Center since 2016.