Monday, 10 September 2012

WOTD: Neuroblastoma

A CT scan showing a neuroblastoma (A). Photograph: University of Michigan Department of Surgery

"Neuroblastoma" - A tumour of the adrenal glands or the sympathetic nervous system (which is part of the autonomic nervous system). Most neuroblastomas develop in the adrenal glands or in the sympathetic nerves along the back wall of the abdomen. Less commonly, tumours develop in the sympathetic nerves of the chest and neck.

Neuroblastomas are the most common extracranial (outside the skull), solid tumour of childhood. Most cases develop during the first 10 years of life, especially in the first 5 years.

Common symptoms include a lump in the abdomen, tiredness, weight loss, aches and pains, paleness, and irritability. Diarrhoea, high blood pressure, and flushing of the skin sometimes occur.

The diagnosis of a neuroblastoma is from MRI and CT scanning, blood tests, urine tests, and biopsy of the bone marrow and any accessible tumours. Treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumour, followed by radiotherapy. Anti-cancer drugs and a stem cell or bone marrow transplant may also be required. The outlook varies because neuroblastomas range from being relatively harmless to aggressively cancerous.

"neuroblastoma". British Medical Association (2007). Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley (DK). p397.

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