Is Neuroblastoma A Solid Tumor & Is It A Brain Cancer?

Neuroblastoma is the most common tumor outside the brain after leukemia and brain tumors in children. It accounts for 15% of cancerous deaths in children. It affects infants and children under the age of 10 years. It is a solid tumor that develops outside the central nervous system. Its common site is adrenal glands that reside on the top of kidneys. Its symptoms involve swelling and tenderness in the abdomen, irritability, weakness, fevers, and anemia. It is detected by ultrasound, MRI or CT scan. It can be managed with chemotherapy, surgery, and bone marrow transplantation. Its prognosis is good in patients who are in stages 1, 2 or 4S than patients in stages 3 or 4.

Is Neuroblastoma A Solid Tumor?

Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor that develops in young children. It occurs in the nerve cells outside the central nervous system. It is not a brain cancer irrespective of its name neuroblastoma. It is an extracranial tumor that means it develops outside the brain. It is the most common cancerous disease that occurs outside the brain affecting children. It develops in the adrenal gland initially. However, it can develop anywhere along the spine. (1)

Neuroblastoma develops in the immature neuroblast cells. It is cancer that starts in the early nerve cells formed outside the brain of the infants and young children. It usually starts in the nerve cells of the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis. It is noted that most tumors grow in the adrenal glands initially.

Neuroblasts are immature nerve cells that are present in the fetus inside the mother’s womb. These cells mature enough to form nerve cells or cells of the adrenal medulla (center of the adrenal gland) and do not form cancer. If they do not mature properly, then they tend to grow continuously and abnormally into a solid mass called a tumor. (2)

Neuroblastoma is a common cancer of children under the age of 5 years. (2) It is rarely found in children above the age of 10 years. (3) In some cases, the tumor cells grow before the birth of the baby. It is often detected in prenatal ultrasound. It is often diagnosed in children when cancer has spread to the various parts of the body apart from adrenal glands such as lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and bones. (2)

Some neuroblastoma grows at the rapid speed and spread to different parts at a very rapid pace. Some neuroblast cells grow slowly. In some cases, neuroblast tumors go away without any reason. In certain cases, these tumor cells mature to form normal nerve cells and stop multiplying. They form a tumor which is called benign ganglioneuroma. (3)

Is Neuroblastoma A Brain Cancer?

Neuroblastoma is not brain cancer. It is neuroblastic in origin but it develops in the sympathetic nervous system rather than the central nervous system. It means it develops outside the brain anywhere in the body. Usually, most of its cases arise from the adrenal gland that lies on the kidneys. However, it can develop anywhere in the body along the sympathetic chain. It develops mostly in the abdomen more commonly than thorax. The most common sites of development of neuroblastic tumors are adrenal glands and under the covering of the abdomen (35 % each). It grows rarely in thorax, neck, and pelvis. (4)

Neuroblastoma is sporadic in nature in most cases. It is the third most common solid extracranial cancer. In rare cases, it is associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Hirschsprung disease, neurofibromatosis type 1, and DiGeorge syndrome.

Conclusion

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of nerve cells that affects children only. It is a solid tumor that develops outside the brain. It develops when neuroblasts are unable to mature properly in unborn babies. It is the most common extracranial (outside the brain) tumor after leukemia and other brain cancers.

References

  1. https://www.stbaldricks.org/blog/post/types-of-childhood-cancer-neuroblastoma/
  2. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/neuroblastoma-childhood/introduction
  3. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/neuroblastoma/about/what-is-neuroblastoma.html
  4. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/neuroblastoma?lang=us

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