DefinitionNeuroblastoma is a rare, cancer that usually occurs in children under age five. The tumor is often found during infancy and may begin before birth. It typically develops in nerve tissue near the adrenal glands just above the kidneys. However, some tumors may develop in the abdomen, chest, neck, or spinal cord.Like most cancers, neuroblastoma can eventually spread to other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment may prevent the spread of cancer.
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CausesIt is not known exactly why the tumor develops. A genetic mutation may be involved.
Risk FactorsFactors that increase the risk of neuroblastoma include:
- Gender: males slightly more affected than females
- Certain conditions such as Turner syndrome , Hirschsprung's disease , Fetal alcohol syndrome , Neurofibromatosis type 1 , DiGeorge syndrome , Recklinghausen disease, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
- Exposure to certain medicines and substances such as diuretics, tranquilizers, phenytoin, alcohol, or tobacco during pregnancy
SymptomsSymptoms will depend on the location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. Some symptoms may include:
- Lump anywhere on the body, usually the chest, neck, or abdomen
- Abdominal pain (swollen abdomen in infants)
- Pain such back or bone pain that is not explained
- Bowel changes and difficulty urinating
- Trouble breathing or coughing
- Weakness or paralysis
- Problems with eyelid and pupil
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Weight loss
- General ill feeling (fever, fatigue, shortness of breath)
- Sudden involuntary jerking of muscles and random eye movements
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