DefinitionNeuroblastoma is a rare cancer that usually occurs in children under 5 years of age. 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 FactorsNeuroblastoma affects males slightly more often than females. Factors that increase the risk of neuroblastoma include:
- 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 medications 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 eyelids and pupils
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Weight loss
- Sudden involuntary jerking of muscles and random eye movements
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