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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of neuroblastoma

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of neuroblastoma

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of neuroblastoma

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of neuroblastoma

Treatments

Incidence, age and sex

Neuroblastomas are tumours of childhood and are most often seen in children of less than 5 years of age. However they may also be seen in teenagers. The incidence of neuroblastoma is slightly more in boys as compared with girls.

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Signs and symptoms

The clinical features of neuroblastoma differ from person to person and depend upon the location of the tumour. Generalised features include fever, headache, malaise and loss of weight. Other signs and symptoms include increased sweating, rapid heart rate, poor bladder control, flushed skin, imbalance in gait or uncontrolled eye movements. Spread of tumour mass to the chest may be manifested by cough and difficulty in breathing. Similarly bone pain, fatigue, pallor, bruising and bleeding may be exhibited when the tumour has spread to the bones and bone marrow.

The diagnosis of neuroblastoma is a difficult one since the symptoms and signs vary according to the location of tumour. In most of the cases, the tumour is detected when it has spread to other body parts. Investigations like bone scan, imaging tests of chest and abdomen may be done to assess the spread of tumour. If the tumour is in an accessible position, then biopsy may be done to establish the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention

The exact cause of development of neuroblastoma is not known. No risk factors or triggers have been documented to predispose to this tumour. The tumour develops in the immature cells (neuroblasts) of sympathetic nervous system and is highly malignant. The most common sites of occurrence are the chest and abdomen. It can spread to various parts of the body including adrenal glands, bone marrow, bones and lymph nodes.

Complications

Neuroblastomas are highly malignant tumours which have high tendency to spread to other body organs. Thus affliction of vital organs like kidneys and liver may result in fatal complications like kidney or liver failure respectively. The chances of mortality increase with the progression of tumour to various parts of the body.

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