Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, affecting approximately 650 children in the U.S. every year. It is the second most common solid tumor in infants. Most children are diagnosed by 2.5 years of age. Up to sixty percent of them have high risk disease that has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body) by the time they are diagnosed. Survival is dependent on age and disease stage: children diagnosed before the age of 18 months have a high survival rate, but high risk children diagnosed before age 5 have about a 30 percent chance of growing up. For children over age 5, teens, and adults, the prognosis is very poor.
One problem all childhood cancer patients face is the lack of money for research. We are thankful there are not more children diagnosed with cancer. However, the relatively low number of diagnoses means that finding new treatments for childhood cancer is not profitable for drug companies. Most drugs used on children today were developed for adults 20 to 30 years ago.
The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown, though most physicians believe that it is an accidental cell growth that occurs during normal development of the adrenal glands. Increased awareness and improved screening has contributed to a recent increase in the detection and incidence of neuroblastoma.
For more information and to help raise money for Neuroblastoma research, please visit www.bandofparents.org