Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops in the sympathetic nervous system (the network of nerves that carries messages from the brain throughout the body.) The cancer develops as lumps or masses in the adrenal glands, abdomen, neck, chest or other areas. The tumors can also spread to other parts of the body such as the bones, bone marrow and brain.
Doctors don’t know what causes neuroblastoma, but most doctors believe it’s an accidental growth that occurs during the development of the sympathetic nervous system.
Each year in the United States, about 700 people — usually young children — are diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Symptoms of neuroblastoma may or may not include:
- aches and pains
- weight loss or poor appetite
- swelling of the abdomen
- limping or difficulty walking
Many of these symptoms mimic other, more common childhood diseases. Because of that, many children aren’t diagnosed with neuroblastoma until after the cancer has already begun to spread to other parts of the body.