Types of Childhood Cancer

There are many types of childhood cancer with different symptoms and treatments. Childhood cancer survival rates in the United States have increased from less than 20 percent in the 1960s to almost 80 percent today. Parents are the best advocates for their children so being informed will help guide a family to make the best decisions for the child battling cancer.

Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a form of cancer that starts in certain types of nerve cells found in a developing embryo or fetus. This type of cancer occurs in infants and young children. It is most often found during the first year of life. It is rarely found in children older than 10. This tumor can start anywhere but usually occurs in the belly (abdomen) and is noticed as swelling. It can also cause bone pain and fever. It accounts for about 7% of childhood cancers.
About two-thirds of all neuroblastomas start in the abdomen, developing in the nerve tissue of the adrenal glands (above the kidneys). They also occur in the neck, chest or spinal cord. Sometimes the tumor begins forming before birth, and in rare cases a prenatal diagnosis can be made using ultrasound.
Infants with neuroblastoma under one year of age have a better prognosis than older children, regardless of the extent of the disease. Some neuroblastomas disappear in infants without any neurobalstoma treatment at all. Watchful waiting may be an option for some infants meeting certain diagnostic criteria. It is important for your child to receive an accurate diagnosis and obtain treatment in a highly specialized environment from a team of doctors with expertise in neuroblastoma treatment.

Types

There are no set “types” of Neuroblatoma , only Progressive or Recurrent Neuroblastoma

Progressive neuroblastoma is cancer that has progressed (continued to grow) during treatment.

Recurrent neuroblastoma is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the same place or in other parts of the body.

Symptoms

Neuroblastoma may have no symptoms at all, or symptoms that may resemble common illnesses. These symptoms may include diarrhea, bruising, loss of appetite, tiredness, and bone pain, and will vary depending on the location of the original tumor and the extent of metastases to other parts of the body. Other symptoms include:

  • Lumps in the abdomen, lower back, neck or chest
  • Bone pain (caused by spread of cancer to the bone)
  • Bulging eyes
  • Dark circles under or around the eyes
  • Swollen, distended stomach
  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weakness or paralysis of the lower extremities
  • Fever, anemia and high blood pressure are found occasionally

Typical Treatments

Standard Neuroblastoma Treatment (additional new types of treatments are being tested in clinical trials and can be found on the NCI Web site): The treatments listed below are to be used as a suggestion of what you may expect. Please speak with your doctor about specific treatment plans he or she may have for your child.

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy

 

In addition, new types of treatments are often being tested in clinical trials and can be found on the National Cancer Institute Website.

Remember, you’re not alone.
Use our Forums to ask other parents what they’ve experienced.

Stages

The following stages are used for neuroblastoma:
Stage 1
In stage 1, the tumor is in only one area and all of the tumor that can be seen is completely removed during surgery.

Stage 2
Stage 2 is divided into stage 2A and 2B.
Stage 2A: The tumor is in only one area and all of the tumor that can be seen cannot be completely removed during surgery.
Stage 2B: The tumor is in only one area and all of the tumor that can be seen may be completely removed during surgery. Cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes near the tumor.

Stage 3
In stage 3, one of the following is true:
the tumor cannot be completely removed during surgery and has spread from one side of the body to the other side and may also have spread to nearby lymph nodes; or
the tumor is in only one area, on one side of the body, but has spread to lymph nodes on the other side of the body; or
the tumor is in the middle of the body and has spread to tissues or lymph nodes on both sides of the body, and the tumor cannot be removed by surgery.

Stage 4
Stage 4 is divided into stage 4 and stage 4S.
In stage 4, the tumor has spread to distant lymph nodes, the skin, or other parts of the body.
In stage 4S, the following are true:

  • the child is younger than 1 year; and
  • the cancer has spread to the skin, liver, and/or bone marrow; and
  • the tumor is in only one area and all of the tumor that can be seen may be completely removed during surgery; and/or
  • cancer cells may be found in the lymph nodes near the tumor.

References:

MD Anderson Childhood Cancer Types. Houston, TX: MD Anderson. Retrieved August 15, 2011 from http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/
cancer-information/cancer-types

National Institute of Health. Types of Cancers 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011 from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2009. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society. Retrieved September 1, 2011, from http://www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/CAFF2009PWSecured.pdf.

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