How Does Neuroblastoma Affect The Body & What Triggers It?

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that is caused by the immature nerve cells present in different areas of the body. The type of cancer mainly arises around the adrenal glands. In addition, it can also be seen on other arises of the body such as the neck, spine area or chest. The problem is very common in children below five years of age and very rare in children who are older. Neuroblastoma is of various types some are self-healed while some call for multiple treatments.

How Does Neuroblastoma Affect The Body?

The fact of how Neuroblastoma affects the body depends on various factors such as the age of the patient, type of treatment performed for curing the problem. Research has revealed that treatment for Neuroblastoma performed on children adversely affects their health in the later stage of life. Some of these effects include the following:

  • The sudden problem of Thyroid
  • Loss of hearing power
  • Infertility
  • Improper growth and development
  • Weak bones and muscles
  • Emotional and psychological problems
  • High possibility of developing leukemia

In some rare cases, the immune system of the body adversely affects the nervous system. This leads to a series of severe problems, like a problem in hearing, weak muscles, behavioral problems, difficulty in speech and so on. All these problems are commonly called opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome.

Children in whom the cancerous tumor develops on the chest or neck need treatment with corticosteroids, IVIG i.e. intravenous immunoglobulin and other effective drugs. COG i.e. Children’s Oncology Group is a group developing guidelines for children surviving Neuroblastoma cancer. These guidelines are very helpful in creating a Survivorship Care Plan for affected children. (1)

What Triggers Neuroblastoma?

Cancer develops as a result of genetic mutation in which normal cells continue to grow without any single to stop. Stage if cancer occurs when the cells multiply beyond limit without any control. This continuous multiplication of cells forms a tumor (mass of tissues).

Neuroblastoma starts to develop in neuroblasts. Immature nerve cells present in fetuses are highly prone to attract this problem during the development process. As the fetus continuo to mature, neuroblasts start transforming into fibers and nerve cells, which are forming adrenal glands. By the time of birth most of these neuroblasts completely mature. Usually, neuroblasts mature and disappear but in some rare cases, these neuroblasts form tumor-like structures. However, to date, it is not clear that exactly what leads to a genetic mutation that ultimately causes neuroblastoma. (1)

Complications Of Neuroblastoma

Spread Of The Neuroblastoma – This type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body as well, such as it can affect the liver, bones, bone marrow, skin and lymph nodes.

Spinal Cord Compression – As the tumors continue to grow, it exerts pressure on the spinal cord, leading to spinal cord compression. This can ultimately lead to pain or even paralysis.

Problems Caused By Tumor Secretions – Neuroblastoma cells release a certain specific type of chemicals that can irritate normal tissues, leading to painful symptoms known as paraneoplastic syndromes. Rapid eye movements, diarrhea, improper coordination, and abdominal swelling are some of the painful symptoms of the paraneoplastic syndromes.

Timely diagnoses and proper treatment can be of great help in treating the problem in a way that does not have any severe side effects in the long run.

Symptoms Of Neuroblastoma

The symptoms of neuroblastoma are not the same for every patient, rather it varies depending on which part of the body is affected by this problem.

Neuroblastoma in the Abdomen:

Neuroblastoma is the chest:

  • Chest Pain
  • Irregularity in the appearance of eyes like the unequal size of pupils, drooping eyelids, etc.
  • Wheezing

Other common symptoms include:

References:

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