Neuroblastoma

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Neuroblastomas are tumors that form in the nervous system of young children, specifically in the areas outside of the brain and spinal cord. They often appear in the chest or abdomen, occurring most often in children 5 and younger, the genetic mutation occurring during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

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The symptoms of neuroblastoma vary depending on the area that is affected. General symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Lumps of tissue under skin

  • Eyeballs that appear to protrude from sockets

  • Back pain

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Dark circles around eyes

Symptoms specific to neuroblastoma in the chest include:

  • Wheezing

  • Chest Pain

  • Drooping eyelids

  • Unequal pupil size

Symptoms specific to neuroblastoma in the abdomen include:

  • Swelling in the legs

  • Abdominal pain

  • A mass under the skin

  • Differences in bowel movements (i.e. diarrhea)

If one or more of these symptoms occur, see your child’s pediatrician.

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In order to diagnose neuroblastoma, a doctor may conduct a physical exam to check symptoms and complete a urine or blood test to check for abnormal levels of various chemicals that may be the result of neuroblastoma cells.

Imaging tests are also often used to check for tumors, including x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scans and ultrasounds. If a mass is found, a physician may remove a sample of tissue for examination and testing (biopsy).

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Proton therapy provides targeted treatment with minimal side effects and is best suited for patients that have tumors near a vulnerable organ, including the heart, eye or lung. Physicians will be able to offer effective treatment with reduced impact to these critical organs.

 

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