Neuroblastoma occurs in the developing cells of the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for involuntary actions of the body, such as blushing, increasing heart rate, and dilating the pupils of the eye. The majority of neuroblastoma tumors (65%) are located above the kidney. However, tumors can begin anywhere in the body. Other commonsites are the chest, neck or pelvis. The disease often spreads from its "primary" location to the bone marrow, bones or lymph nodes.

There are approximately 650 new cases of neuroblastoma diagnosed in the United States each year.  Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor outside of the brain in children. Most children are diagnosed as toddlers, but neuroblastoma can be present in infants and teenagers as well.

Researchers are working to understand how and why neuroblastoma occurs.  Many researchers believe that neuroblastoma develops when normal neuroblasts (the immature cells of the sympathetic nervous system) fail to mature into nerve cells. Instead, they continue to grow and divide uncontrollably, leading to the growth of a mass of cancerous cells, or a tumor.  Researchers have also started to identify mistakes, or "mutations" that occur in genetic material – the DNA – of neuroblastoma cells, but have yet to figure out exactly why those mutations happen in the first place.

Last updated July, 2011

Newly Diagnosed with Neuroblastoma
In Treatment for Neuroblastoma
After Treatment for Neuroblastoma

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